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Is Redemption Possible For Tiger Woods?

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

Aside from his porn "stars," escorts and other bimbos, the issue that may totally destroy Tiger Woods is drug use and abuse, with respect to which rumors have been swirling since his "accident."

One of America's finest sports writers, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, has a lead story dated December 16, 2009[2], in which he asserts that Tiger’s credibility—already eroded by marital infidelity—could evaporate entirely if there is fire to go along with the smoke generated by his reported link to a doctor who promotes performance-enhancing drugs such as HGH.  Plaschke’s comments about the alleged linkage echo a report by the New York Times.

As Plaschke writes: “If a guy is a chronic cheater off the course, what kind of leap is required to believe he could be the same sort of cheater on the course?”  The doctor, Anthony Galea, is apparently under a joint U.S.-Canadian investigation for providing athletes with such performance-enhancing drugs.  One of the athletes that has been under Galea's care is Tiger, who was visited “at least four times” at his Florida home by the doctor.

Plaschke adds: “The public thinks, if there's even a chance [Tiger is] guilty of running a harem while married with two young children, there's a chance he could be guilty of anything.  Once we realize we don't know him, then we stop trusting him.  And once we stop trusting him, then he becomes vulnerable to people ignoring the amazing flight of his ball and concentrating on the unsettling size of his neck”—a reference to the size of disgraced baseball star Barry Bonds’ neck.

Bonds is a central figure in baseball's steroids scandal; and his agent pronounced his playing career dead on December 10, 2009, saying it is essentially impossible for Bonds to find work in baseball heading into 2010.  Today, Bonds is remembered not only for his home runs and All-Star Games and Most Valuable Player awards, but also for a federal indictment that accuses him of lying to a grand jury about knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

Plaschke notes with respect to Tiger: “You know what's really recklessly irresponsible?  Dealing with a doctor who has a history of using and prescribing the banned HGH substance, that's what.”  Clearly Tiger is a sick human being.  No “happily-married man” who cavorts with porn stars and other women with savory reputations—much less in his own home—is anything less.

His popularity is plummeting, according to the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.[3] Since admitting to "infidelity," his "favorable" rating dropped to 33 percent in the latest poll versus 85 percent from his last poll in June 2005.  His "unfavorable" rating climbed to 57 percent from 8 percent four years ago.  Tiger posted the highest popularity rating in poll history, 88 percent, when Gallup first measured him in 2000.  The swing is the largest drop between consecutive measurements since Gallup began tracking it in 1992, according to its managing editor.

The results of the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll are similar to those of the latest highly-respected Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey—announced on December 9, 2009[4]—which found that just 38 percent of Americans now have a favorable opinion of Tiger.  That is down from 56 percent, shortly after the stories first broke about his auto accident.  Two years ago, 83 percent had a favorable opinion of him.

It is not surprising that women take a harsher view of him as well.  Golf has been predominantly a men’s sport until recent years, and most women—certainly those who do not play or follow golf—probably view him as nothing more than another highly-paid athlete who got caught cheating on his wife.  What is so tragic is that golf gave Tiger an opportunity to rise to its zenith; and he has abused his family, friends, fans, sponsors, and the sport itself.

Tiger has trashed the sport of golf like no other player in its history.  Every American golf pro and others who earn a living from the sport worldwide will be hurt by his conduct.  His golf swing cannot be separated from his reckless life style.  He is a global disgrace.  However, golf will live through the Tiger Woods era and survive.  American golf existed long before anyone heard of him, and it will exist long after he is gone and nothing more than entries in the record books like Barry Bonds.

Tiger and his handlers have devised the ruse of a “hiatus” from golf because they want people to beg him to stay in the game.  An acquaintance of mine has noted: 

”It's a shrewd political move.  It makes him sympathetic.  It makes the public and the PGA beg for his return.  His alleged ‘indefinite’ leave from the game is no such thing, nor is it designed so he can ‘work on his family issues.’  Rather it's a cynical way to try to regain favor with the public.”

For many of us, Tiger was never a hero—just a gladiator or human “machine” that his father had fashioned, much like the gladiators who were trained for combat in ancient Rome.  Hence, we feel neither disillusioned nor betrayed, because Tiger is akin to so many other celebrities and politicians of our times, who have unbelievable feet of clay and should not be role models for anyone.  Regrettably, lots of people of all different ages apparently needed a hero and found one in Tiger.

Many of us have enjoyed the game of golf before Tiger came on the scene, where he was certainly dominant at times.  Vijay Singh and other fine golfers excelled too, and many of us applauded them, not Tiger.  What none of us really knew was that Tiger is a fraud and a sick human being, as well as the hedonistic version of the “American dream” gone haywire.

There are reports that Elin has decided to leave him after Christmas, and that she is already talking with one or more divorce lawyers.  Apparently she wants the holiday season to appear normal for her children, but will separate from him early in the New Year.  Tiger is an uncontrollable narcissist who will never change, nor can he be “fixed” by Elin or anyone else.  His marriage seems doomed regardless of what he does, which should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Bill Plaschke has noted: “As the public leaves him, so do advertisers, with global consulting firm Accenture PLC completely dumping him and Gillette pulling his commercials indefinitely.” Accenture's termination of Tiger is presumably based on a “morals clause” in his contract.  With Gillette and AT&T phasing him out of their ads as well, which means they are dumping him—after Gatorade has dropped him already—the rest of his sponsors may follow suit.

Plaschke adds: “Woods won't just lose all his endorsements—when was the last time you saw Barry Bonds selling anything?—but he'll also lose his last bastion of support, his galleries.  Even those guys wearing plaid pants and [smoking] fat cigars don't much tolerate golf cheats.  If golf fans go nuts when they think a guy is using a juiced driver, imagine what they'll think about a juiced body.”

Also, there are reports that Team Tiger is coming apart, and that those who have guided his career in recent years may be dropped.  The real “hustlers” of Tiger are Steve Williams, his caddie; Bryon Bell, president of Tiger Woods Design; Mark Steinberg, his manager; and the other leeches who have made their living from him and knew exactly what was happening but kept taking his money.

Williams has said: “What people fail to realise is I [just] work for Tiger Woods  . . .  I am not with him 24/7.  . . .  When he is not competing, I am back in New Zealand.  I have no knowledge of what he is doing . . . ."  Williams claims the scandal has caused strife in his own marriage—perhaps because he lied to his wife like Tiger lied to Elin.

Bell allegedly arranged for the trip to Australia of Tiger’s bimbo, Rachel Uchitel, to join him at the Australian Open.  He even paid for her ticket and accompanied her on the flight.  Steinberg has been Tiger’s agent for 12 years, and the likelihood that he did not know what was happening is slim to none.  Moreover, any notion that these men failed to spot the trouble as it was developing, of course, is naïve and a fantasy.  If anything, it is likely that one or more of them served as high-class procurers or pimps for the golf legend.

When all is said and done, the media made Tiger a celebrity, and sadly it is unmaking him now.

© 2009, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Mr. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee; and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Law, and Who's Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] See, e.g., http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-plaschke16-2009dec16,0,3987424,full.column

[3] See, e.g., http://www.usatoday.com/sports/golf/2009-12-14-tiger-woods-gallup-poll_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

[4] See, e.g., http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/sports/december_2009/tiger_woods_favorables_fall_to_38

Disclosure: No positions