Tiger Woods Needs to Learn From Michael Vick's Blueprint
The most private person in the world is on a charm offensive. Tiger Woods is on the radio, writing magazine pieces and starting a Twitter account.
At this rate, he'll be doing the Tango with his caddie on "Dancing With The Stars." Before it comes to that, I'd like to offer a word of advice:
The best way to rehabilitate your image isn't by talking, especially when you have nothing new to say. Woods should be like Mike.
No, not his old skirt-chasing mentor with the wagging tongue. Tiger needs to be like M-m-m ... gosh, I can hardly bring myself to type it ... Michael Vick. The mere fact anyone is being told to emulate that guy shows how far Woods has fallen.
It all began last Thanksgiving. That's a major reason Tiger has turned into a publicity hound. It's a preemptive strike on next week, when we celebrate the Pilgrims coming to America and running their SUVs over fire hydrants while being chased by club-wielding wives.
With all those anniversary stories in the pipeline, Team Tiger penned a column in this week's Newsweek. He did about 25 minutes Thursday morning on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike in the Morning."
And let history record, at 11:08 a.m. Wednesday he tweeted "What's up everyone. Finally decided to try out twitter!"
He'd be better off trying out a new putting stroke. Public opinion about Woods calcified about 59 mistresses ago. A lot of people are so disgusted they'd be happy if he never made another birdie.
A lot are disgusted but would like the old golfer back, just to make the sport far more interesting. Then there are those who forgave, forgot or never saw why his philandering mattered to anyone except his wife.
It's a lot like Vick. Some people never stopped wearing his jersey. Others will never stop hoping he dies and comes back as a fire hydrant.
The difference is that after his initial post-prison mea culpa media tour, Vick realized there was nothing more to say. He did dally with "The Michael Vick Project," a BET reality show where he searched for redemption. He wisely declined a second season.
"I put a stop to that," Vick said. "They asked me to do it. I don't have that lifestyle."
Except for the occasional birthday shootout, he decided to concentrate on football. There were no commercials featuring the voice of a dead ancestor. He didn't mount public relations blitz to extol how he's been searching his soul, finding balance and discovering the joy of making macaroni and cheese for the kids.
That's all great, but Woods been has repeating it since his first post-crash press conference at the Masters. People either bought it or didn't long ago. If you're trying to sell a new and improved product, it helps to be new and improved.
What we have is the same pre-packaged Tiger. Sources say that somewhere beneath that tightly buttoned shirt lurks a witty guy, but any personality was long ago whitewashed by the IMG message-control machine.
Tiger has perfected the role of World's Least Interesting Man. Don't stay thirsty for an unguarded moment, my friends. You'll dehydrate.
The ground rules for the Mike and Mike precluded asking about last Thanksgiving or his wife. When asked about Masters chairman Billy Payne's criticism of his personal life, Woods went into android mode.
"Everyone's entitled to their opinion."
We weren't looking for "Billy is the Church Lady in a green jacket." But a little unvarnished reflection would have been refreshing. It also would have been shocking.
The irony is a year ago we were devouring the Tiger reality show even though the star was nowhere to be found. Now he's everywhere but we want to change channels. It's time for new material, which brings us back to Vick.
All those TD passes won't mitigate all those dead dogs, just as another Masters title won't prove Tiger is a better human being. I still think Vick is secretly one of Saddam Hussein's sons, but you have to give him credit for rebuilding his professional life.
Well, maybe you don't if you're a PETA member. The rest of us have been forced to look at him in a better light.
"He's a superstar athlete who thought he had everything in the world," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. "He fell from grace tragically by making some horrific mistakes, paid a significant price, worked his way back and now is being successful."
And the best part is Vick is letting the attention come to him. He's not writing about it in Newsweek or booking slots on national radio shows or cranking up a Twitter campaign.
If Vick could tweet some advice to the producers of "The Tiger Woods Project" it wouldn't take the 140-character allotment:
"Shut up and play."
Everything else feels like a tired rerun.