This is a difficult image. It's hard for me to look at full on, eye to eye. And I'm not even a Tiger Woods fan.
When this story broke earlier today, I wasn't surprised. After all, Mr. Woods has been on a slow fade into oblivion since his spaceship of a life came crashing down to earth nine years ago, that fateful night in Florida, his crumbling body surpassed only by his crumbling reputation. Still, this picture still shocks.
In his prime, I didn't care for him. He was just too good. Funny how that happens in sports. We say that we want excellence in our athletes, but what we mean is occasional excellence...not too much. The very best are always hated by at least as many people as love them. Tom Brady, Lebron James, Barry Bonds, Tiger Woods. Everyone of them has a legion of haters out there gleefully cheering every mistake, denigrating every accomplishment. Today, Google any story about this DUI arrest and you will see a comment section dominated by people positively giddy at his latest humiliation. But, when I read the story and then look into the eyes of this once great athlete, I am overcome by sadness.
Yes, yes...I know. Tiger Woods made a fortune selling a lie to the world. He carefully crafted a wholesome, family man image that allowed him to sell us everything from wristwatches to Buicks. His was the story of prodigy made good through tenacious competitiveness and a work ethic forged into his DNA by his USArmy officer father. Here was natural talent wed to hard work. How could he not be great? But, there was always around Tiger Woods an air of arrogance, an off putting cockiness vibe. It's why I always rooted for whoever he was paired with on Sunday. That was actually the only time I bothered to watch golf on television...to see Tiger get beat. I wasn't alone. There were millions of us, and without Tiger those millions of eyeballs are watching something else on Sundays.
But even I had to admit that I had never seen anything like him before. I'm old enough to remember watching Jack play. He was great. I never watched Arnie, my favorite golfer, when he was in his prime. I saw a little of Gary Player, a lot of Tom Watson and Seve Ballesteros. They were all great. But none of them were Tiger woods great. Nobody hit the kinds of shots that Tiger hit. Nobody made as many clutch putts as Tiger Woods made. He was a phenomenon.
And now, it is all in pieces, his life seemingly ground into a fine dust, and his fall from grace has been as deep as his ascent had been steep. The four back surgeries have taken his game away, and his reckless personal behavior has destroyed his marriage. Now, his deshelved hair, unkempt beard and bulging, bloodshot eyes are plastered across every computer and television screen the world over, his epic disintegration laid bare.
I cannot take any pleasure from such a sight. I will not rejoice in such a thing. I can only pray that God will place someone in the man's life who can help him recover, help him pull himself out of the mire.
I am now a Tiger Woods fan.