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On Friday, Tiger Woods, the sports world’s most famous and recognizable figure, spoke publicly for the first time since his own world was turned upside down. His fall from grace has captivated the minds of all kinds, from avid golf enthusiasts, to casual sports fans, down to housewives and drama queens who are just in it for the juicy gossip. But after three months of silence, the greatest golfer on the planet stood in front of a camera, not to make a tournament-winning putt, but instead, to speak openly about the mistakes he made, the hurt he has caused, and his road to recovery.
I have watched Tiger’s speech now twice and read the transcript once. While many will criticize the scripted way in which the entire speech was performed, I ask, “What else were you expecting?” Of course he would read a prepared statement. He isn’t going to go in front of millions of people without one, only to look like a bumbling idiot. His speech touched on more than I ever thought he would address. It went for longer than I ever thought he would speak. And it gave us, finally, an inside look at Tiger Woods, Mr. Privacy himself.
So where does Tiger go from here? Have his words got you back on his side? Will you “believe in him again,” like he asked that you would, to close out his speech?
And where does Friday’s speech rank in the history of off-field moments in sports? We all remember where we were during the infamous “O.J. chase,” with the white Ford Bronco speeding down the freeways of California. Years from now, will we remember where we were when we watched “Tiger Talk – 2010?” I know I will.
I’ve been a fan of Tiger ever since his days at Stanford and his rookie year on the PGA Tour. I honestly, never really stopped “believing in him,” even in these last three months. Call it blind faith, but compared to so many in the sports world, what Tiger has done, while extremely wrong and extremely hurtful, pales in comparison to others’ wrong-doings. Look at former Patriot Donte Stallworth. How about Michael Vick? Or Plaxico Burress? Or the many athletes that are tied to the steroids scandal in baseball? They all broke laws. What Woods has done you can’t really be jailed for. That being said, what he’s done doesn’t not make him a total d-bag. He has a lot of work to do to get back the respect and dignity that he once had. Can he do it? Certainly…and his 13-and-a-half minute speech Friday was a giant step towards recuperation and a successful recovery. Here’s hoping we see the greatest golfer in the world back where he belongs soon, at a PGA event, making history on the greens and fairways of the most beautiful courses the world has to offer.