The End of an Era


Not long ago we talked about Tiger Woods in the same breath as Jack Nicklaus. Now, it’s Eliot Spitzer, Mark Sanford, John Edwards, Bill Clinton and Kobe Bryant.


There is grieving for the end of an era, the end of Tiger as heroic and untouchable. He’s simply human now, like us. Most of us have a sack of rocks we carry around.

There’s anger in the grieving period, too, from people feeling deceived and disappointed.

It’s difficult to separate Tiger the golfer from Tiger the man. President Clinton may have done some laudable work, but his time in office will forever be colored by the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Now Tiger’s remarkable record and rise to No. 1 – perhaps the best ever – will always be shaded by this fall from grace, the demolished SUV and the well documented “transgressions.”

Understandably, people want answers because they’re tired of being manipulated by the PR driven, media driven, Madison Ave. driven machine that spins images of famous figures without revealing who they are.

Do people have a right to know what happened? Tiger as a public figure has an obligation to acknowledge the situation and to apologize for his behavior.

And consider that Tiger is not the only person affected by this. Elin is the one who must hold her head high in the wake of her husband’s indiscretions. Elin is the one who one day will have to explain it all to her children, even as she grieves the life she thought she had herself. She will put her own feelings aside while she tries to repair the damage and raise two young children.

The only way this family can begin to pick up the pieces is if they are allowed to do so in private. But that will be impossible.

Just as we’ve seen every great Tiger moment for 15 years in slow motion, we’re likely now to be fed every tawdry tidbit until the well is dry.

Every Tiger victory has been like a movie, homage to his greatness. He has lorded over this sport. He was Presidential – with much better approval numbers – reaping the enormous benefits of a sophisticated Internet and global media convergence. It was all branded and specific.

So it will be with the teardown. Now he’s on the other side.

Shine you up like the Hope Diamond. Take you apart piece by piece, in painstaking detail.

When his facial wounds heal, expect a mea culpa with Oprah, Larry King, Matt Lauer or any of the other network heavyweights who are pushing to land the big interview. When that happens, we almost always forgive and ultimately embrace, as long as people feel that there is genuine remorse. Kobe Bryant and President Clinton enjoy widespread popularity today.

Questions remain. Is Tiger willing to do the work necessary to repair the damage and will Elin go down that road with him? Has he bottomed out? Has he fallen far enough to be truly humbled?

Tiger Woods can still claim the mantle of greatest golfer of all time. Kobe Bryant is making his own case on the basketball court with his transgressions a distant memory.

The harder task for Tiger may be reclaiming his dignity.

And his family.