Video takes Tiger's tale to new depths


Nearly three days after he was awakened on the side of the road by a Jupiter (Fla.) police officer, the second shoe dropped for Tiger Woods.

Once the mugshot of a bleary-eyed Woods made the rounds on social media Monday morning, this was the next logical step: that there would be dashcam video of his arrest to corroborate and support the details released in the initial police report. 

Video that would take statements and testimony and bring them to life, lending color and sound and visceral detail to the kind of snapshot in time that no one would ever look to volunteer to the world.

It was difficult to watch, and it dropped an already sad tale to entirely new depths.

Here was Woods, once a proud champion who put professional golf on his back for nearly two decades, barely able to stand without wobbling. Or follow various instructions, or display an understanding of where he physically was, or even utter a coherent sentence.

This was a man who, while registering 0.000 on a Breathalyzer test, was clearly impaired. He should not have been behind the wheel of his 2015 Mercedes, and his statement hours later admitted as much. This was a mistake.

But the fame and notoriety that took Woods to such unprecedented heights on the course also brings with it intensified scrutiny when the chips are down. And after this latest incident, Woods is down to the felt as he was during his sex scandal in 2009.

But when Woods collided with that infamous fire hydrant at Isleworth, there was no video. There was no tape released of police officers asking him to recite the alphabet, or putting him in handcuffs while barefoot and barely able to keep his eyes open.

That first incident played out in a vacuum, as Woods memorably offered no statement or explanation for weeks as the court of public opinion was tasked with filling the many gaps.

The video released Wednesday by the Jupiter Police Department – footage that was eligible for a public records request, as are other similar incidents involving celebrities and non-celebrities alike – was jarring. But it will inevitably be relished by Woods’ detractors, those who have delighted in his downfall and who didn’t receive their pound of flesh in motion picture form eight years ago.

Let’s be clear: this is not a moment worth relishing. This is a troubling glimpse, a terrifying snapshot of a man who had no business being behind the wheel of a car. But it’s also a man who should not be pilloried for making a mistake, even one that could have caused great harm to himself or others.

Too often with athletes it is difficult to separate the player from the person. Woods was not a golfer while he failed to execute a number of field sobriety tests. This was not a 14-time major champ, or a player plotting a comeback to the PGA Tour. It wasn’t even the guy who just days before penned an optimistic injury update.

This was Tiger Woods the man, an individual just as flawed as each person reading this, going through another regrettable and forgettable incident for all the world to see.

It’s a man that Woods himself took great strides to shield from public view over the years, even before that infamous day in November 2009. The list of people who can speak confidently to Woods’ inner workings is decidedly short.

But in light of this latest incident and capped by the release of his arrest video, those painstaking efforts have been largely nullified. Now when people search Woods’ name in the years to come, his major accolades and title-clinching putts will be interwoven with a clip of him unsuccessfully tying his shoe.

The entire situation can be boiled down to a single word: sad. It’s sad that Woods was in that car, regardless of reason or destination. It’s sad that he decided to sit behind the wheel when he was decidedly impaired.

It’s also sad that some will now hover over this latest video like vultures, picking away at it ad nauseam because, as Woods can personally attest, the internet never forgets.

We did not have to see the extended cut of Woods’ arrest, to sit shotgun for every voyeuristic detail, to know this was a low point. It was an egregious error, one for which he took responsibility and asked forgiveness.

But now that the video is out there, it’s a moment that we won’t soon forget – even if Woods eventually takes steps down a road of redemption. And that’s just sad.