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John Feinstein on Tiger apology: 'He was standing there scared to death'

Feb 24, 2010, 3:00 PM EDT

John Feinstein has never been a Tiger Woods apologist, and yes, I realize that’s an understatement. Curious how the journalist who embedded himself with Bobby Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers for Season on the Brink never was able to break through Tiger’s personal defenses, even though he’s tried. “It’s not that I don’t like Tiger,” Feinstein has often said of their lack of a professional relationship. “It’s more that he doesn’t like me.” That could be because Feinstein has never flinched from criticizing Woods, a fact that has drawn ire from Tiger fans even before the Great Mistress Tsunami hit our shores.
So it’s no wonder that when the subject was Tiger’s recent Pressless Conference, Feinstein opened up with a full broadside, both on his blog (Monday) and in a radio interview (Tuesday). Key quote: “(Tiger’s friends and colleagues sat) up straight in their chairs at rapt attention as if the President was addressing the nation in the midst of some kind of crisis. I’m surprised they didn’t all stand when Tiger entered and exited the room.”

First, from his blog, Feinstein on the Brink:

What made this so clearly a performance is something raised by the Tiger-defenders: “He doesn’t have to apologize to anyone except his family,” is a bleat I’ve heard repeated often–especially on ESPN where I wonder if the Bristol Boys are writing the same script for everyone in the desperate hope that Tiger will grant them (pant-pant) a sit-down with one of their softball questioners in the future.

Okay then folks, if he didn’t need to apologize to anyone but his family what was he doing out there apologizing to anyone and everyone including all the children in the world? Here’s the answer: This was step one, not of the 12 steps to recovery for addicts, but in the however-many-steps-it-takes to recovery for fallen icons. Tiger wants his sponsors back–or new sponsors to take their place. He wants to be beloved again. He wants people to think he’s “changed.” What he was doing Friday is no different than a beer company ad that urges you to “drink responsibly,” after pitching its product. Tiger wants people to think he CARES about them now.

johnfeinstein.jpgThen Feinstein checked in with ESPN 101 radio in St. Louis and offered this:

“I am not sure we have ever seen a cataclysmic fall from grace like this. Even Watergate took two years. I mean, this happened virtually overnight.

“The guy standing up there was a lot different than the guy that I have been around for 14 years who was the cockiest, most arrogant guy you ever met in your life and I say that as a compliment. That’s part of his greatness as a competitor was his belief that he could pull off any shot and that none of these guys can beat me. That’s always been his attitude and that’s been his attitude in life. He was standing there scared to death and I think that’s one reason why I think he was wrong, but that’s one of the reasons why he didn’t answer any questions.”

Back to the blog: He also knows that it was HIS behavior that brought the tabloids into the life of his family. … Don’t call people liars if you aren’t prepared to provide them with the truth.
Not sure I agree with those last two statements. But I will go on record as saying that the press gathering was surreal and creepy, as if the Zombie President was giving his State of the Union speech, with only other zombies allowed in the audience. And another thing I’m sure of: Whatever televised tournament marks Tiger’s return will draw Super Bowl-level ratings. Get cracking on some new Doritos commercials, guys.
Weekend reaction — talking about the commentary on, and my experience of, Tiger Woods [Feinstein On The Brink]
John Feinstein: ‘I am not sure we have ever seen a cataclysmic fall from grace like this.’ [Sports Radio Interviews]

  1. josezeros - Feb 24, 2010 at 6:04 PM

    I love the German concept of “schadenfreude”. I must be a bit sick but I enjoy when the mighty-mights fall from grace and grovel to the hoi-polloi. Of course Tiger had great writers authoring his apology speech. Time will tell if he is sincere. He is a serial cheater, a lout and a jerk in my book.

  2. flat ankle boots - Feb 24, 2010 at 6:13 PM

    Content such as this makes me extremely sad, I’m sure its cleache to say if we are able to all simply get along, but how much more of this stuff are we all gonna endure?

  3. DugoutNu - Feb 25, 2010 at 1:20 AM

    How much more of this atrocious spelling are we to be forced to endure. ?cleache? I am pretty sure you meant cliche.

  4. Lorie - Mar 4, 2010 at 2:50 PM

    I totally agree with you. I also agree with some of John Feinstein’s comment about Tiger ….. arrogant is kind when one talks about Tiger