Tiger Woods didn’t just run into a fire hydrant and a tree in his driveway version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Woods killed off the last private celebrity we’ll ever see.
The most overblown minor car crash in automotive history proves beyond any doubt that it’s now impossible for a megastar to avoid becoming TMZ fodder. No one tried harder — or more ruthlessly blacklisted any close-to-blabbering friends — to keep everything but his golf game private than Eldrick Tont Woods.
You can argue this made Tiger a phony all along. You can debate whether this was even ever a worthwhile goal. There is no denying, though, that Tiger’s trip into the tabloids proves it’s no longer possible to keep the focus on the playing field.
It doesn’t really matter whether the Florida Highway Patrol goes through with its apparently-TMZ-delivered threat (finally talk to us or else?) and attains a search warrant for Woods’ post-crash hospital records. It’s almost irrelevant whether Tiger truly cheated on his wife with that New York City party girl.
That National Enquirer story has already been cited by virtually every media organization in the world. It’s out there, it’s now part of the Tiger record forever.
The same golf outlets that essentially ignored Tiger’s shameful sportsmanship at the PGA Championship — something that should have affected his legacy — are now forced to report on something that shouldn’t, but will.
Tiger never claimed to be perfect, but he didn’t stop a fawning press from filling in that caricature.
He’s close to Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan, two men who will never be mistaken for two of sports’ choir boys. Woods himself always carried an uber competitive, trash-talking streak, from those off-color jokes he tried to get GQ to not print to the text message he reportedly sent after beating a hideously all-yellow-clad Sergio Garcia at the ‘05 British: “I just bludgeoned Tweety Bird.”
Still, there was something almost noble about his obsessive quest to keep the conversation on his game. No more. This dinosaur is dead.
– Chris Baldwin covers the sports media for Metro.
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