Well I’ll be damned. Tiger said all the right things in his little “no questions” press conference this morning, and he really sounded like he meant it. Tiger’s mom was in the front row just ahead of him but Elin wasn’t there at all.
The guy seemed contrite, sincere and like he understood the gravity of what he’s done. He was surely coached by the best, but he pulled it off and impressed me. He also admitted that he had multiple affairs, and said that when he was cheating he believed that the average rules didn’t apply to him because he was self-centered and entitled. Looking at the structure of his speech, it was very clearly set up to balance his serious admissions with PR-friendly topics like his charity, his time in rehab, and commitment to Buddhism. Tiger got all serious and honestly a little scary when he started talking about the paparazzi going after his family and the fact that there were false rumors about him. He kind of ruined the good will he had going when he started in with that, but then he talked about his faith in Buddhism and kind of smoothed it all out. Again, it was very professional and these admissions could help him partially recover from his PR crisis. Here’s a transcript I typed in. I know it’s long but I wanted to get it all down. (Some things might be misspelled, but I tried to be accurate!)
Good morning. And thank you for joining me. Many of you in this room are my friends. Many of you in the room know me. Many of you have cheered for me, or you worked with me, or you supported me. Now, every one of you has good reason to be critical of me. I want to say to each of you, simply and directly. I am deeply sorry (braces self) for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in. I know people want to find out how I could be so selfish and so foolish. People want to know how I could have done these things (looks directly at camera) to my wife Elin and to my chlidren. And while I have always tried to be a private person, there are some things I want to say. Elin and I have started the process of discussing the damage caused by my behavior. As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words. It will come from my behavior over time. We have a lot to discuss. And however, what we say to each other will remain between the two of us.
On letting people down, mentions his charity
I am also aware of the pain my behavior has caused to those of you in this room. I have let you down. I have let down my fans. For many of you, especially my friends, my behavior has been a personal disappointment. To those of you, who work for me, I have let you down personally and professionally. My behavior has caused considerable worry to my business partners, to everyone involved in my foundation including my staff, board of directors, sponsors, and most importantly the young students we reach. Our work is more important than ever. 13 years ago, my dad and I envisioned helping young people achieve their dreams through education. This work remains unchanged and will continue to grow. From the learning center students in southern California to the Earl Woods scholars in Washington, DC, millions of kids have changed their lives and I am dedicated to making sure that continues.
Says Elin didn’t attack him
But still, I know I have bitterly disappointed all of you. I have made you question who I am and how I have done the things I did. I am embarassed that I have put you in this position. For all that I have done, I am so sorry. (gulps a little.) I have a lot to atone for, but there’s one issue I really want to discuss. Some people have speculated that Elin had somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night. It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that. Elin never hit me that night or any other night. There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage. Ever. Elin has shown enormous grace and poise throughout this ordeal. Elin deserves praise, not blame.
Admits to multiple affairs and that he was wrong
The issue involved here was my repeated irresponsible behavior. I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did was unacceptable and I am the only person to blame. I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the values that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t to go far to find them.
On how he tried to skirt the rules
I was wrong. I was foolish. I don’t get to play by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone, apply to me. I brought this shame on myself. I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife’s family, my friends, my foundation and kids all around the world who admired me. I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I’ve done. My failures have made me look at myself in a way I never had to before. It’s now up to me to make amends and that starts by never repeating the mistakes I’ve made. It’s up to me to start living a life of integrity. I once heard, and I believe it’s true, “It’s not what you achieve in life that matters, it’s what you overcome.”
Apologizes for not living up to role model status
Achievements on the golf course are only part of setting an example. Character and decency are what really count. Parents used to point to me as a role model for their kids. I owe all those parents a special apology. I want to say to them that I am truly sorry. It’s hard to admit that I need help (looks to the side) but I do.
Says he was in rehab
For 45 days from the end of December to early February I was in in patient therapy receiving guidance for the issues that I’m facing. I have a long way to go. But I’ve taken my first steps in the right direction.
Says he won’t answer questions about his infidelity, gets serious
As I proceed, I understand people have questions. I understand the press wants to ask me for the details of the times I was unfaithful. I understand people want to know whether Elin and I will remain together. Please know that as far as I’m concerned, everyone of these questions and answers (looks serious and a little menacing) is a matter between Elin and me. These are issues between a husband and a wife. (clenches jaw.)
Denies rumors and tells paparazzi to back off his family
Some people have made up things that never happened. They said I used performance enhancing drugs. This is completely and utterly false. Some have written things about my family. Despite the damage I have done, I still believe it is right to shield my family from the public spotlight. They did not do these things (puts hand on heart) I did. I have always tried to maintain a private space for my wife and children. They have been kept separate from my sponsors, my commercial endorsements. When my children were born, we only released phtoographs so that the paparazzi could not chase them. However, my behavior doesn’t make it right for the media to follow my two and a half year-old daughter to school and report the school’s location. They staked out my wife and they persued my mom. Whatever my wrongdoings, for the sake of my family, please leave my wife and kids alone.
I recognize I have brought this on myself, and I know, above all I am the one who needs to change. I owe it to my family to become a better person. I owe it to those closest to me to become a better man. That’s where my focus will be. I have a lot of work to do and I intend to dedicate myself to doing it.
Name drops Buddhism and Buddhist principles
Part of following this path, for me, is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age. People probably don’t realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years. Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught.
Says he’s going back to rehab
As I move forward, I will continue to receive help, because I’ve learned that’s how people really do change. Starting tomorrow, I will leave for more treatment and more therapy. I would like to thank my friends at Accenture and the players in the field this week for understanding why I’m making these remarks today. In therapy, I’ve learned the importance of looking at my spiritual life and keeping it in balance with my professional life. I need to regain my balance and be centered so I can save the things that are most important to me. My marriage, and my children. That also means relying on others for help. I’ve learned to seek support from my peers in therapy and I hope someday to return that support to others who are seeking help.
Says he’s not sure when he will be golfing again
I do plan to return to golf one day. I just don’t know when that day will be. I don’t rule out that it will be this year. When I do return, I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game. In recent weeks, I have received many thousands of e-mails, letters and phone calls from people expressing good wishes. To everyone who has reached out to me and my family, thank you. Your encouragement means the world to Elin and me. I want to thank the PGA tour, commissioner Fincham, and the players for their patience and understanding while I work on my private life. I look forward to seeing my fellow players on the course.
Asks for help – he was laying it on too thick here
Finally, there are many people in this room and there are many people at home who believed in me. Today, I want to ask for your help. I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again. Thank you. (Sniffs audibly, yeah right!)
[Transcribed from Tiger’s press conference, February 19, 2010]
Ok, so Tiger said all the right things. The big loud sniff at the end wasn’t necessary, but it went along with the kind of shmaltzy way he ended, by asking for help. He then went and hugged his mom, who kissed him and looked like she was crying. He hugged and shook hands with a couple of people in the front row and then left. Tiger didn’t cry at all and I think he could have achieved his objective a little better with some tears. I know that sounds cynical but it’s true.
There’s still a lot of ego in the guy, but I think he meant most of what he said. I wouldn’t buy any of that if I was his wife, but I’m not her and she’s dealing with it in her way.
There’s some buzz in the golf world that Tiger’s announcement was timed in a way that serves as a snub to Accenture, the first major sponsor to dump him once the scandal broke. Accenture is holding a tournament today, the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona, and Tiger could have easily scheduled this for next week when it wouldn’t have coincided with that. I heard a pundit on the Golf channel say ahead of the conference that “I couldn’t imagine how this wouldn’t be perceived… as thumbing your nose at Accenture.” That’s why Tiger mentioned Accenture and his fellow players, and given the content of his speech they’re likely to overlook the timing. Golf needs Tiger and is likely to welcome him back when he makes that choice.
I watched Golf Central afterwards and they were very moved and impressed by Tiger’s speach. They called it “sincere and honest,” “as honest as anybody could ever imagine,” and “genuine and authentic,” “a full admission and submission.” The pundits were even kind of emotional afterwards and one guy was tearing up! The celebrity world, well we have a longer memory and we love to talk smack. As Kaiser told me today, Tiger will still be on the celebrity sh*t list for some time to come. That’s just how we do it.