Tiger Woods has made nearly a billion dollars, some of it on the golf course, most of it endorsing products. Nike alone pays him about 30 million a year to haul their clubs around the course, wear their clothes, and sport their logo.
Everybody from local sports columnist Andy Baggot to my YourNews colleague Bill Wineke to ESPN's Michael Wilbon says Tiger doesn’t owe anybody an explanation about the now-notorious fire-hydrant-and-tree- smashing incident late last week. Private matter, they say. Between Tiger and his car insurance company, I guess. He’ll pay a ticket of $164 for careless driving; case closed.
My wife had a similar reaction to Wineke’s when learning the vehicle involved was a big, black Cadillac Escalade. He was a pitchman for Buick, wasn’t he? I pointed out to my bride that last summer, Buick pulled the plug on the big paychecks to Tiger to cut costs. He played in the world’s last Buick Open golf tournament anyway. No hard feelings. Bailout money doesn’t cover celebrity endorsements.
As of this writing, his biggest single paycheck-issuer, Nike, says they’ll stand by their man. Tiger won’t lose a dime in endorsements because he’s a bad driver, pun intended.
Unless it’s because the accident followed a nasty domestic battery incident, and that’s the kind of stuff the new mainstream media….TMZ and Entertainment Tonight…will dine on. There’s no evidence of that, though it won’t stop the gossip websites and shows from implying it.
Baggot and Wineke and the others are right: Tiger doesn’t owe us any more of an explanation than Barbara Lawton does for her abrupt pulllout from the Governor’s race.
But both of them handled the situation quite poorly.
Just as the Lawton pullout has fueled everything from the malicious gossip of a Green Bay talk-show host to a search of her official e-mails trying to find a clue about why she quit, Tiger’s silence is deafening.
All he’s said, officially, is that the accident was solely his fault. Did anyone believe or allege otherwise? He’s said the horrible rumors aren’t true. Which rumors?
Because he’s the top-ranked golfer in the world, sports writers and commentators give him a break when he slams a club in anger or drops the F-bomb after a bad shot. He’s expected to win every tournament he enters, and pressure like that nobody needs. But, that’s what you get when you’re on the verge of being the only athlete-billionaire around.
So what should Tiger have done? He should have lied his rear end off, the American way.
He should have called some reporter pal (like Brett Favre calling Greta Van Susteren) and said “I had a sleepless night going, was really tired, pulled out of the driveway to take in the night air, and somehow hit the gas instead of the brakes. Next thing you know I’m in the middle of the lawn half stunned, with my wife trying to get me out of the car. I feel like a dope. I guess I’d better leave my driving to the golf course for a while.”
I was lied to for thirty years in the news biz. I’ve heard them all. I know the difference between a convincing lie and a bad lie. If you’re reading this, Tiger, I’m available to consult, on a fee basis.
Thing is, though, that my suggested lie doesn’t explain why Rachel Uchitel made a quick trip to L-A and lawyered up with Gloria Allred…..that wasn't just for PUBLICITY, was it????