But Will You Love Him Tomorrow?

As has been pointed out both here and, well, pretty much everyplace else, David Beckham isn't so much a person as he is a multinational corporation run by a small army of professional flacks and flunkies and overseen by American Idol producer Simon Fuller.

The very fact that football player David Beckham's career is managed by a theatrical/showbiz guru rather than, say, IMG, pretty much says all we need to know about how he and the little woman view their business relationship with the world at large.

And we all recognized long ago that "The Beckham Brand" is what they are all firmly dedicated to promoting. Not the interests of this club or that, or this corporate marketing partner or that. The important thing, their ticket to ever greater fame and fortune, is their last name. As a result, any little smudge or tarnished spot on said brand is capable, in the long run, of costing them money.

And it's no secret that money is what it's all about.

So when major and minor media of every stripe and from print, broadcast and internet platforms alike, started ripping into David Beckham for his faithless, feckless and cavalier treatment of his commitment to Major League Soccer - and by extension, the USA - to say that alarm bells went off in the halls of Beckham Inc. corporate headquarters would be a gross understatement.

The United States is the world's biggest market, which is of course the reason they brought the Amazing Flying Beckham and Sons Carnival over here in the first place. It represents an enormous chunk of the gigantic pile of money that they plan on fleecing the world out of over the next 25-30 years.

They already had Europe and the Far East pretty much in their pockets. The Beckham Brand is strong and healthy there and, frankly, turning his back on MLS, far from being a negative, is undoubtedly giving him a boost in those areas of the globe, a fact which, of course, enters into their calculations. But then, EVERYTHING enters into their calculations.

Unfortunately for The Master Plan to Own the World, David Beckham is now in a neck-and-neck race with Rod Blagovich for the title of "Object of the Most Ridicule" honors in the USA. Even people who hate soccer and/or MLS have gleefully leaped on the bandwagon. The only question has been how loud the booing will be whenever the guy sets foot on a US pitch.

But if anyone thought for a minute that Fuller and the Beckhams were going to be satisfied with slinking off to Milan and tossing the income projections for the US market out with the office trash, they don't know these people very well.

Suddenly, Becks is everywhere.

It started with the entirely unsolicited announcement that Beckham intends to exercise the clause in his contract that gives him the right to own an MLS team and that he intends to do it the very second he retires.

This by itself is remarkable because while that agreement has long been rumored on BigSoccer and elsewhere this is the first time I can recall any of the principles publicly acknowledging it. But obviously the PR Department, urgently tasked with proving that David really does love MLS after all, thought this was a good first salvo in the great Beckham Brand Rehabilitation.

This was quickly followed this week with a one-on-one interview with aging anorexic Hannah Storm on ESPN wherein Becks made all sorts of nice noises about his devotion to the US and Major League Soccer.

The same day, sports wires reported that Victoria was telling people that the kids are "settled" in California, they like their schools and their friends and that Mom and Dad have no intention of yanking them off to Italy where, presumably, they'd find no kids their own age and no school that they liked.

The next day he did an exclusive interview with NBC's bland and obsequious Matt Lauer, letting him know that while his immediate interest in playing for his beloved England necessitated him hanging around Italy for a while, that he's nevertheless not only still "fully committed" to MLS, but positively giddy in anticipation of once again kicking it around with his Galaxy pals at "The Home Depot".

(Presumably he meant the HDC and not the big orange store where he goes to buy spackle and big rolls of duct tape)

I think we can expect to see a lot more of this sort of thing as Beckham Inc.'s professionals work feverishly to rehabilitate their suddenly tarnished brand. And they certainly have their work cut out for them.

Because you have to believe that the thought of 20,000 fans lustily booing Goldenballs as he trots onto a field - a piece of tape which will run once an hour on ESPN for a week - is keeping a bunch of Fuller's peons awake at night.

It'll be interesting to see how much damage control they can do between now and July 18.