By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) Father Time is undefeated, as they say.
Second place in that marathon is the inevitability of us all shuffling off this mortal coil at some point, on a long enough timeline that we all lose our mojo, our knack, whatever you want to call it that drives us and makes us stand out among the herd.
In a close third is the collective lust we have for witnessing that drain in celebrities. Hoo boy, do we love a good ol’ fashioned downward spiral in famous people. It makes the rest of us schlubs feels less schlubby. The averageness that screams at us daily in the backs of our minds gets temporarily hushed a few dozen decibels.
That especially sad kind of schadenfreude is on display right now as Tiger Woods sits more than a driver’s length from the base of the mountain atop which he stood for years as the face of his sport. Woods was charged with DUI on Memorial Day morning in Florida not far from his home in Jupiter Island. He blamed an unexpected reaction to pain medication, not alcohol, on causing the erratic driving. Many of us were skeptical of that, though the police report released Tuesday says he blew .000 on two breathalyzers. The morbid fascination was swift.
That this coincides with his body betraying him in recent years is what makes this story especially ripe for the gossipy vampires among us. Fellow golf great Dustin Johnson had issues with sex and drugs, but he was still rock and roll. Johnson currently sitting at No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings keeps him cool in our book.
Woods, on the other hand, was a stiff who did what most men with fame and gobs of money do, but where he really fouled up was in ceasing to remain entertaining; thus, the reaction that contains some pity but smacks, too, of satisfaction. You are no god, Tiger. You’re now a hack whose greatest days are well behind him, and all of our failings and mediocrities that were never public enough to warrant interest manifest in your mugshot. And we are so relieved that it is only each of us that sees our own reflection in it and no one else.
Tiger was never a warm guy, and after his mass infidelities and high-profile divorce from Elin Nordegren, his fall athletically was met with less sympathy than a star athlete might otherwise get. There was an air of pleasure even — him being taken down to earth, no longer be able to play a sport at the highest level that the rest of us also get to play terribly.
He was always easily mockable. Eldrick with a childish nickname.
Not “black enough” for some, which still always means “not white” to the establishment.
But Woods made golf watchable for so many of us. His video game was the best on the market for years. All fleeting, though. And our nostalgia bitter apparently.
It was less than a week ago that Woods wrote on his website that his recovery was looking up.
It has been just more than a month since I underwent fusion surgery on my back, and it is hard to express how much better I feel. It was instant nerve relief. I haven’t felt this good in years.
We’ve seen your comeback attempts enough to not care anymore.
I could no longer live with the pain I had.
Neither could we.
You mention the word ‘fusion,’ and it’s scary. Other guys who have had fusions or disc replacements like Davis Love III, Retief Goosen, Lee Trevino, Lanny Wadkins and Dudley Hart … they have all come back and played. But more than anything, it made their lives better. That’s the most important thing … that I can have a life again with my kids.
Shut up if you’re not smacking the ball down the fairway, dude. We don’t care about your fatherhood. It holds no currency for us.
But, I want to say unequivocally, I want to play professional golf again.
We want that, too. But because we just assume that will never happen, your arrest and its aftermath will do. You’re fodder for memes now, so we’ll take it from here.
Presently, I’m not looking ahead. I can’t twist for another two and a half to three months. Right now, my sole focus is rehab and doing what the doctors tell me. I am concentrating on short-term goals.
Writing that just last week makes it all the more pathetic. Or hilarious, if that’s your thing.
Tiger Woods is no longer a champion anything. He’s that second-place loser of mojo. Which is funny to those who don’t realize they trail him.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.