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An Icon Without a Clue
Posted on Apr 8, 2010
By Mark Heisler
In the way of these things, Woods surpassed Jordan, becoming the first athlete billionaire, with an annual income estimated at $110 million-120 million, of which $100 million came from endorsements.
That’s a lot of money for just being you. Of course, Nike (main sugar daddy for Woods, Jordan and Bryant) insists they design their own shoes right along with the lab guys in the white coats.
What clearer sign of your pre-eminence can there be than free money?
Unless, of course, some other icon is making more.
No one will soon approach Woods’ $100 million annually. With several big-ticket endorsers dropping him (Gatorade, Accenture, AT&T) or no longer using him in ads (Gillette, Tag Heuer), he may or may never get back to that mark, either.
On the other hand, if he doesn’t have enough to live on, who does?
Not counting agents, PR people and the like, it’s only important to one man. Unfortunately, that’s Woods.
“Hopefully, I can prove to companies going forward I’m a worthy investment and I can help their companies grow,” Woods said Monday.
“I felt like I was representing companies well in the past but then again, I wasn’t doing it the right way.”
In the past, he was so busy representing companies he barely had time to do anything but play golf, and, of course, lead a secret life.
In 2007, Sports Illustrated assigned golf writer John Garrity, who had known Woods since he was 14, to spend six months following him around the world, from Hawaii to Dubai.
As SI Editor Terry McDonell wrote:
Actually, as Garrity noted, Woods agreed to sit down with him one time in that six months, for 10 minutes.
The world’s fascination with Woods continues. Monday, as when he made his first public comments in that stiff non-press press conference, all the news and financial networks carried it.
In the stock exchanges, where golf is what basketball is in the inner city and baseball is in the Dominican Republic, trading came to a halt.
The first time it happened, the White House press corps watched, aghast.
Tweeted CBS’ Mark Knoller: “Cant believe the major networks are providing live coverage of Tiger Woods’ statement.”
Tweeted ABC’s Jake Tapper: “I like @chucktodd’s idea that there should be a rebuttal to Tiger’s statement. Ladies?”
Now, however, the fascination with Woods is tabloid-edged. It doesn’t have to mean anything at all to Woods, unless he’s still bent on becoming, and being acknowledged as, a messiah.
In any event, Thursday’s drive on No. 1 will be the most famous shot in golf history, surpassing, oh, let’s say that 30-foot chip he rolled in on No. 16 en route to winning the 2005 Masters, the one that went about 20 feet, made a right turn of almost 90 degrees, trickled to a halt at the lip of the cup, paused, and dropped in.
It’s on again. Tiger, Tiger, burning up.
* * *
This just in: Setting a new standard for self-righteousness, Augusta national chairman Billy Payne lashed out at Woods the day before the start of the most-awaited tournament in the history of golf, going out of his way to turn his annual state of the Masters speech into an angry sermon with himself as the instrument of The Lord’s Wrath.
“It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here,” said Payne. “It is the fact that he disappointed all of us and, more importantly, our kids and our grandkids.
“Our hero did not live up to the expectations we sought for our children.
“Is there a way forward? I hope yes. I think yes. But certainly his future going forward will never be measured only by his performance against par but by the sincerity of his efforts to change.”
Payne, of course, is best known for turning the 2000 Atlanta Olympics into the best demonstration of capitalism-run-amok before the rise of derivatives, putting events in the biggest possible venues, drawing crowds that overwhelmed the city’s flimsy infrastructure and turning the event into a two-week traffic jam.
Putting that aside, a few questions spring to mind:
Who died and made Billy the pope?
This is dignified Augusta National’s way of giving Woods a refuge, letting him return to his professional and get on with his life?
Did Payne really tell his kids and grandkids to follow the example of professional golfers? What about raising them, himself?
Now we’re supposed to start measuring Woods by more than his performance against par?
Why wouldn’t we have been doing it all along?
Because he won a bunch of golf tournaments?
I just wish Woods was free to pull out of the Masters on the spot, leaving Payne to wallow in his low-rated, who-cares-anymore? sanctity.
On the bright side, Payne just showed his real face.
Woods is just a guy, if an accomplished one, who messed up. Payne is one of those who made him into a living god and now thinks Tiger let him down, or in other words, the living embodiment of the Real Problem.
P.S.—Watch CBS, which just buried the replays of Butler’s Gordon Hayward fouling Michigan State’s Draymond Green at the end of their NCAA semifinal, do their ostrich act on this one.
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