Wright Thompson deserves a lot of credit. The talented writer from ESPN.com managed to
do what few people have been able to do. He changed the narrative, albeit ever so slightly, on
the downfall of Tiger Woods.
Thompson authored a compelling, scintillating, and fascinating article called "The Secret
History of Tiger Woods." At times, I felt like I was reading a Tom Clancy thriller rather than
something that popped up on ESPN.com. I was invested, focused, and hoping the story would
never end. It was that good.
It was also easy for a great majority of our country to buy into and believe as fact. Thompson
laid out Tiger's obsession with becoming a Navy SEAL, the most bad ass of military men on
the planet. The author, even though he never spoke with Tiger, spun a tale with the imagination
of Stephen King and the precision of Lauren Hillenbrand, whose meticulous research of
war-hero Louis Zamperini, helped her book, "Unbroken" become a best-seller.
Thompson made us feel like we were right next to Tiger as he performed a few exercises
at a SEAL training base in San Diego. There was Tiger running through a KILL house
practicing hostage rescue missions, his heart-racing, eyes wide-open as he got pounded with
Yep, the writing was so good, America bought into Tiger's dream of being a SEAL and how,
in a way, it was part of his downfall from the greatest golfer in the world to something of
a great Greek tragedy. NBC's "Today" show was quick to follow-up on Thompson's article
with a morning feature and a passionate discussion about Tiger's downfall. The Internet
was abuzz with rapid reaction punctuated with words like, "wow", "amazing", and
Too bad the story is more fairy tale than fact. Tiger's downfall was a result of being
exposed as a serial-cheater and sleaze ball. Mentally, he just couldn't handle that. The
injuries followed. Thompson wasn't brave enough to explore Tiger's alleged PED use,
which went from the whispers to shouts to those in the world of golf, and may have
contribute to his numerous injuries.
Most of all, the entire "Tiger wanted to be a Navy SEAL" story by Thompson was an
insult to SEAL's everywhere, those living and those killed fighting for a country.
A lot of great football players want to be in the NFL, too. They practice, play, train, go
through rigorous combines and fewer than 10 percent ever make it to the big-time. Same
goes for baseball, hockey, basketball, and every other professional sport on the planet.
Same goes for being a Navy SEAL. Thompson's article stated that Olympians and Division
I athletes have tried becoming Navy SEAL's, but most don't make it because they can't
handle the pain and just aren't mentally tough enough. Less than 10 percent of those who
try to become SEAL's fail at it.
Yet, people are buying that Tiger could've been a SEAL. That's laughable. In Thompson's
article, he describes Tiger talking to a Navy class and how he wanted to be a SEAL and
SEAL instructors rolling their eyes in disbelief.
There were a few SEAL's who talked about Tiger's eagerness to become one of them,
but Thompson pointed that most didn't want anything to do with Tiger's fantasy of
becoming a SEAL. They didn't want to be interviewed for the article, but told the
author they didn't think much of Tiger as a man.
Tiger got to play some games with the SEAL's, but he didn't try to do the brutal
exercises that SEAL's have to do to earn their trident. Tiger didn't sit in hypothermic
water for hours, swim several miles, or try to survive out in the desert without food
Do you really think Tiger, a person pampered and enabled all his life, could handle
the pain that comes with attempting to become a Navy SEAL? I highly doubt it.
Tiger is legendary for being cheap, tipping very little or even at all. Thompson relayed
the story of Tiger having lunch with a few SEAL's he just went through training
exercises with. When the check came, Tiger, who is worth close to a billion dollars,
went silent and didn't pick up the check. The SEAL's were so stunned, they asked the
waitress for separate checks.
That's another reason Tiger could never be a SEAL. SEAL's protect, fight, and even
die for their brothers. They die instead of their brothers. Tiger can't even pick up a
check for men he allegedly wants to be so much alike. What do you think he'd do in
combat when one of them is wounded with the enemy coming after them?
Yeah, he'd probably think about himself and run away and hide.
There have been stories about fellow PGA players asking Tiger to sign golf balls,
hats, pin flags, and other items so they can auction them off at charity events,
raising money for those less fortunate. Tiger most often declines.
So, if Tiger won't help out his fellow golfers, do you really think that in a dangerous
situation where lives are on the line, Tiger is going to think about anyone but himself?
Tiger has always thought about just himself. He didn't think about his wife or children
when he was out sleeping with every porn star, pin-up, and waitress in the country.
Tiger hasn't thought a lot about his father, either. Thompson points out that Tiger hasn't
visited his father's grave and doesn't even have a headstone for it. How would you
feel if your father didn't have a headstone for his grave?
If I were Tiger, I'd be more embarrassed about not having a headstone for my father
than being exposed as a philanderer, something his father was, too.
The author, Thompson, did his job. He managed to get a lot of people talking
and views for ESPN.com. Most people finished the article feeling like Tiger's obsession
with being a SEAL was part of the reason for his downfall.
Nothing will change the fact of what Tiger was or really is: a self-absorbed, self-centered,
liar, and cheater who ruined his career, reputation, and legacy with decisions that
And to try to make Tiger's obsession with becoming a SEAL into the reality he could
actually be one, is an insult to them.