Okay, NASCAR, it's your turn in the Tiger Woods-style tabloid spotlight.
The National Enquirer is reporting that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is responsible for -- wait, hang on a second here. Let's do a disclaimer:
What you are about to read may or may not be true. And even if it is true, it has nothing to do with racing on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. So if you're easily offended, or if you don't much care for gossip, or if you don't want to be responsible for the burden of thinking for yourself and making up your own mind, you'll want to skip this article. Okay? Okay.
Now, here's the story. The Enquirer is reporting, in a bylined article with sources, that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is responsible for breaking up the marriage of Amy Reimann and Tommy Cook, an assistant defensive line coach at the University of Kentucky.
"My son's not talking about this," Tommy Cook Sr., told the Enquirer. "No one in the family is. All I can say is your story's true. Amy and Dale have been involved for a while."
According to the Enquirer report, quoted by Sports By Brooks, Reimann met Earnhardt while doing interior design work for him and continues to go to "several" NASCAR races a year. Brooks has a photo of Earnhardt and Reimann riding together in a golf cart, which proves exactly nothing but really looks suspicious. (Again, remember my admonition above that this may be an entire pile of pan-fried bull. Make your own decision here.)
Now, the obvious initial parallel would be the Tiger Woods scandal, a subject with which I'm somewhat familiar, hence the disclaimer above. But that's a faulty comparison, for a couple reasons. First, Junior isn't married with children, so he doesn't have anybody to "cheat on." Second, to this point we're talking about one woman, not a battalion. Numbers do matter.
Still, allegedly breaking up a guy's marriage is no small thing. Moreover, this is exactly how the Tiger story began. (Be sure to read the comments below that article before you scoff at this whole story.) And take it from one who's been there -- if the NASCAR media follows the golf media's example and brushes this off as just "tabloid trash," they're going to get as outplayed by the tabloids as the golf media did.
Junior's personal life is his own business ... to a point. I'm not saying any of this is true, but if it is, he's got a problem that he has to deal with right now. If his actions are going to cast aspersions on the entire sport -- and you can already imagine the headlines, can't you? -- he'll need to do what Tiger didn't, and get ahead of this story. Otherwise, getting collected by a Big One at Talladega is going to feel like a gentle massage compared to getting caught in the teeth of a tabloid scandal.