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Monday's question: Will Tiger Woods' reputation be damaged by how he is handling his car accident?

November 30, 2009 |  2:33 pm


Reporters from around the Tribune family tackle the question of the day, then you get a chance to chime in and tell them why they are wrong.

Barry Stavro, Los Angeles Times

Short answer: very little.
When Tiger tees off at Augusta National in April, he’ll be the favorite to win that tournament for the fifth time, and to get another step closer to breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 Grand Slam titles. Whatever legal or marital issues Woods may face—if any—in the wake of his car accident last week, it will be a temporary setback.
Many other athletes have dealt with far more serious PR and legal problems, such as Kobe Bryant when he faced sexual assault charges in 2003. A few years later, Bryant won the league MVP award, won a gold medal in the Olympics, plus another NBA title. Now his Lakers team is favored to win it all again this season and, surprise, his popularity worldwide is at its zenith.
The same will happen with Woods.
Pro golfers stay in their prime until their early 40s. Woods is only 33. He has already won 14 Grand Slams and Woods has another decade to chase down Nicklaus’ record. As he gets closer to beating Nicklaus’ record, the TV ratings, Woods’ endorsement fees, and the attention devoted to his accomplishments on the course will grow. And the most persistent question Woods will probably face is: Are you the greatest golfer ever?

Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant

While making history on one golf course after another since he was toddler, Tiger Woods has carefully crafted an image away from the greens. And speaking of greens, that image -- diligent, serious, focused and wholesome -- has brought Tiger and his family more green than they’ll ever spend.
So will his Thanksgiving escapade hurt his image? And has Woods made matters worse with his PR missteps on a holiday weekend?
Of course his image is tarnished, probably forever. And we’re not sure Woods could have changed that with a hastily arranged press conference or a better-prepared statement. No matter the circumstances, and there are plenty of rumors, this is a bizarre story that runs counter to an  image Tiger and his sponsors have built. An accident at 2:30 a.m. while leaving the house is never good.
Ultimately, Woods is a golfer and his career is still on an historic arc. There will still be advertising opportunities and sponsorship deals based on what Tiger does with a club in his hand.
But in the short term, the world wants to know why his wife had a club in her hand in the middle of the night. As more details emerge, the public face of Tiger Woods likely changes with the old image vanishing.

Photo: Tiger Woods holds his daugher, Sam, and stands next to his wife, Elin Nordegren, on the sidelines before Stanford's football game against California Bears on Nov. 21. Credit: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images.