I waited before writing this column so that I could look around and attempt to gauge the public’s reaction to the prepared speech Tiger Woods gave this morning concerning his infidelity and subsequent leave of absence from the PGA Tour.
And I am noticing about a 60-40 split, both from Internet bloggers and radio call-in shows, which I find fairly intriguing, really. I mean, the man admitted fault. He has shouldered the blame squarely and took it on the chin.
“I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior that I engaged in...I was unfaithful...I felt entitled.” Agreed, on both points.
He apologized to his wife, his children, his mother, the PGA, his fellow players, to his fans, to those whose children looked up to him, and to you and me.
The man, for the most part, appeared contrite—how could he not be? The man has likely lost his wife and custody of his children. He has lost fans, supporters and admirers from within the golf community. And he has, without question, lost hundreds of millions of dollars in endorsement income.
And, it does not escape me in the least that, less than three months ago, we were talking about how soon Woods would break, and subsequently shatter, Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 Major PGA Tour victories.
Today, however, we are wondering when, if ever, the man will regain his former status of the world’s No. 1 golfer...and make no mistake, folks. Hands down his is absolutely the best golfer on the face of the planet and that point cannot be argued or debated.
What I have witnessed since his speech, however, is how hypocritical people apparently are.
Let me ask you a question. Since 1998. How often have we heard or read from reporters that, Mark McGwire, or Barry Bonds, or Gary Sheffield, or Alex Rodriguez, or Roger Clemens, or Sammy Sosa (need I go on?), all they had to do was apologize. And these guys broke federal laws by using illegal steroids and performance enhancing drugs.
“Just be honest,” the public pleaded. Or, and I love this one, “America is a land of forgiveness, of second chances.”
Do you realize that, by my count, and I could be wrong here, but at least five of the above former major-leaguers took an oath, and then perjured themselves, in front of the United States Congress?
Bonds was under federal investigation for lying to the FBI and for potential tax evasion issues. Yet, people still wanted to see him hit the ball over the fence.
Clemens is still under investigation by the FBI for not only lying about taking steroids and Human Growth Hormone (HGH), but also is accused of having an affair with a 15-year-old girl, while he was an adult and playing baseball, both of which are actual crimes, if in fact he committed them.
I will go back a little further here, friends, to Jan. 26, 1998, when these words were spoken: “Now, I have to go back to work on my State of the Union speech. And I worked on it until pretty late last night. But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman , Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you.”
Every single word was a lie. And every single word was spoken to the Congress of the United States, and to the world, in fact, by President William Jefferson Clinton.
So, as I ponder how the American public has responded to men who came before Woods, none of whom have taken responsibility for what they did, I found one statement from Woods to be of particular import: “I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again,” he said.
Tiger, you were correct in stating you have a long way to go. And I, for one, will be hoping you find your way back to where you believe you belong... not on the golf course, but in your personal life.
Oh yeah, Tiger, I’d like to say one more thing to you, if I may (not that you need it): “Apology accepted.”