Tiger Woods Buries Himself in Recovery Clichés

Tiger Woods spent 14 minutes this morning apologizing for, it seemed, practically everything he's ever done. He may have just made things worse.

His first mistake, of course, was waiting nearly three months to make his apology. But setting that aside, there is the issue of the actual apology, which was excruciating to watch. It was a string of clichés straight from a 12-step book. He took the blame, it's true, but he sounded incredibly robotic and forced. ("The issue involved here was my repeated irresponsible behavior. I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable and I am the only person to blame.")

And the length of the speech worked against him; he should have stuck to the five minutes he was supposedly going to speak for. Because he ended up apologizing for things that people weren't expecting, and lobbed some accusations that made him seem defensive.

He said that the allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs were "completely and utterly false." It reminded me of the old, "So when did you stop beating your wife?" question. No one would've been talking about performance-enhancing drugs today if he hadn't brought it up.

The other thing Tiger did that drove me crazy was his appeal to the paparazzi to stop harassing his family. "I still believe it is right to shield my family from the public spotlight. I have always tried to maintain a private space for my wife and children. They have been kept separate from my sponsors and my commercial endorsements," he said. Which is a lie, as Don Van Natta of the Times pointed out on Twitter—Tiger was shown kissing his son in an ad for American Express.

He also gave a shout-out to Accenture. Ew.

Then there was the weird part where he brought up being raised a Buddhist (his mom looked distinctly uncomfortable at that point), but said he had "drifted away from it in recent years." (No kidding.) Then he said, "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." Again, this felt forced and false.

The elephant(ess) in the room was clearly Elin, who wasn't there but whose spectre hung over the proceedings. "Elin has shown enormous grace and poise throughout this ordeal. Elin deserves praise, not blame," he said. Again—blame? Who was blaming Elin? From what I could tell, people sympathized with her. And her absence was telling. Think of how many men making apologies have had their wives at their sides—and not just politicians, either. Remember that when Kobe Bryant had to make his big apology, his wife Vanessa was at his side. Tiger also said that he wasn't going to discuss whether he and Elin were going to stay together. Clearly he needs her more than she needs him.