I can’t say I’ve never cheated on a girlfriend, though I have stayed faithful in my three serious adult relationships. My fidelity isn’t about morality as much as it’s about self-preservation because I like women with a little psycho behind their eyes and there is just no telling what a crazy woman will do when she finds out her man has been humping around. I’ve also been known to flirt a little too much with hostesses and waitresses when I’m out on the town. In short, I am Tiger Woods.
We all know the story by now and two weeks later, nobody looks good. Tiger is wrong for publicly humiliating his wife and Elin is wrong for reportedly accepting millions of dollars to continue in the role of Mrs. Woods if that’s not who she wants to be (if it is, she shouldn’t take any money). More importantly, after Tiger starts playing golf again, anyone who reports on this story is wrong for not giving the Woods family a chance to put this episode behind them — and for increasing the likelihood that Sam Alexis Woods (age 2) and Charlie Woods (age 10 months) will read something horrible about their mom or dad before Tiger and Elin have had a chance to explain it to them.
All week I wondered about Tiger’s agent, Mark Steinberg, and why he hasn’t killed this story. I’m no math whiz, but when you earn $100 million in a year, your agent’s 10 percent comes to about $10 million or so. For that, IMG should have set up a situation room tasked with making this thing go away within 72 hours. The initial strategy (buy, lie and deny) did nothing but help establish a going rate for the “My Text With Tiger” stories and the current strategy (come clean, then hide out) isn’t going to work now that a gossip market exists. Mark Steinberg needs to get to work on behalf of his biggest client because you know Leigh Steinberg and Scott Boras are licking their chops.
The first thing Mark Steinberg has to do is destroy this newly created cottage industry for nightclub VIP room staff. IMG can use its leverage in sports and entertainment to keep stories about Tiger off of TV and out of a mainstream press that doesn’t really care about him when he’s off the golf course. The people who cover him regularly are golf writers who are all terrified of losing access to Tiger — and tabloid journalists won’t get press passes to cover any tournament he enters for the rest of his life — so there won’t be anyone to write or buy these stories except gossip Web sites with limited budgets. If it then became known at the exclusive resorts and clubs their clients visit that IMG expects a certain level of discretion from staff, there would be far fewer professional party girls willing to risk their jobs and their lifestyles for a few grand from TMZ.
Drying up the market for Tiger-related gossip isn’t going to be enough. The Woods’ are going to have to do an hour with either Oprah or Barbara Walters (I vote for Oprah). Tiger will have to admit what he did, publicly sacrifice his perfect image, and ask for forgiveness — which will instantly be granted — from his wife and his fans. He will then move into the third act of his public life: Act I — young phenom becomes the first black golfer to win the Masters; Act II — he dominates the PGA tour while quintupling prize money for all players; Act III — he becomes a family man, balances golf and life while breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record for major championships.
Elin has the tougher job because she will have to forgive Tiger for everything — and mean it. She’ll have to seem like a normal girl who happens to be married to a man who can give her a $20 million yacht called “Privacy” as a wedding gift. Most importantly, she’ll need to get people to empathize with the fact that the father of her children is a target for all those “Anita Richmans” out there who don’t care that they could be breaking up a family, they just need a rich man … or any man. It’s something a lot of women can identify with. From that point on, any girl who comes forward with a Tiger tale will be seen as the home-wrecker she is. Mission accomplished.
We are all Tiger or Elin Woods in one way or another. No man can say he’s never been distracted by an attentive manner and a welcoming smile that leads his eye and his thoughts downward; and no woman can say she’s never chosen to continue to love a man who has done her dirty (thank God). Tiger needs to come out and fess up, then go out and play golf so this story can have a chance to die. Otherwise, he’ll keep being the butt of jokes that his kids are not going to find funny.
Kenny Mack is a multi-platform content provider with four-quadrant crossover appeal who has to credit Guy Torry for coming up with “Anita Richman.” Kenny’s past columns are archived at www.ifyoumissedit.com and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org