Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Tiger Woods' Unfolding Nightmare

It's amazing how fast a popular personality can descend into public scorn and ridicule.  Tiger Woods made millions of dollars from his golf and product endorsements.  That was when he was the multicultural megastar of sports, young and handsome, with a winning smile and personality and a wholesome image of a husband and father.

Over the last two weeks, it was disclosed that Tiger Woods has been unfaithful to his wife, with as many as 11 known affairs.  No longer seen as a "wholesome" image, sponsors may drop Woods like a hot brick.  He has become radioactive, a public relations nightmare.

The late night comedians are having a field day.

Letterman noted that Tiger Woods has been on the Wheaties Box (14 times, as a matter of fact) but Wheaties won't put him on it anymore.  Considering the stamina required to bang 12 women, Letterman quipped that now, more than ever, he deserves to be on the box.

Jay Leno quipped that, in order to save time, Tiger Woods should just release a list of the women he hasn't had sex with.

Gatorade has dropped Tiger's image from their Tiger Woods Focus bottles.

It has been reported that other sponsors are pulling their Tiger Woods endorsements from prime time TV.  This could cost Tiger Woods millions in lost ad revenues.  Can he ever recover?

I think the answer is no, he will never recover completely.  His self-inflicted plight reminds me of Paul Reubens, the actor who played the role of Pee Wee Herman.  Reubens's "Pee Wee Herman" role was very popular with children.  Reubens made two movies and had a successful television show for kids, called "Pee Wee's Playhouse."  When Reubens was arrested in a porn theater for "flogging the log," his public image was destroyed overnight.  He too faced widespread scorn, ridicule and late-night TV jokes.  He never recovered.

Reubens has been all but invisible since then.  He has made cameo appearances on some television shows and is trying to make a comback.  Alas, once one falls from public grace, his career is practically shot.  Fatty Arbuckle, the silent screen actor and comedian, is probably the most egregious example of this.  Falsely accused of rape and murder, he was acquitted by a jury and received a public apology, but his career was dead.

Tiger Woods, however, is neither Pee Wee Herman nor Fatty Arbuckle .  No doubt he will at least partially recover and continue to earn money from endorsements, perhaps at a reduced level.

Then there's the question of his marriage.  Will it survive the scandal?  Or will his wife move out and take the children and the bank account with her?  I hope not, but if Elin Nordegen can forgive Tiger for cheating and publicly humiliating her, she is more forgiving than I would be.

Personally, I hope Tiger can somehow turn it around.  I'm rooting for him.  If it were up to me, I'd give him a mulligan and let him replay the hole take the shot over.

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