Tiger Woods has a new commercial out. It’s a Nike ad.

That’s the voice of Tiger’s late father, Earl Woods. Nike hasn’t released information regarding the context of those words spoken by Woods’ father, but I’d speculate that it’s commentary on the state of Tiger’s progression as a golfer. Likely as a very, very young golfer.

It’s going to raise eyebrows, and it’s going to be objected to, but this is a pretty brilliant stroke of advertising gold, if you ask me. I don’t think I approve of it, or even like it, myself, but people like me, SportsCenter, news shows, and talk shows around the world are likely going to be talking about it, posting it, and generally discussing it. This commercial will get more free airtime than storm clouds.

And if Nike feels the need to defend the ad, it wouldn’t be difficult. They were one of the few sponsors who didn’t drop Tiger after revelations of his infidelities began to pour into the media. They could argue that they stood behind Tiger like a disappointed father. They could argue that they found Tiger’s behavior irresponsible and amoral, but not unforgivable. Would Earl Woods drop Tiger as his son? Certainly not. But he might require that Tiger sit down and explain his actions.

Now it’s doubtful that Tiger had any sort of heart-to-heart conversation with any of the top brass from Nike, but that’s how they can defend this ad. Or they can say it’s just about returning to golf after a difficult layoff.

The thing is, it’s not a public apology. It doesn’t acknowledge anything specific. It is sort of eerie — the visual of an aged, sad-looking Tiger filmed in sort of grainy black-and-white accompanied with the disembodied voice of his dead father — but it’s well done.

I guess the shame is that people will look at Tiger as cashing in on his infidelities. And maybe people are right for thinking this. But at the same time, this is part of his job. If I work as a mail-carrier and it’s discovered that I’ve cheated on my wife, I’m still going to go to work. People on my route aren’t going to decline acceptance of their mail because I’ve committed adultery. But then again, I’m not going to receive a bonus check for it either. Of course, Tiger’s paid his price in the form of all the lost sponsors. But I understand: it’s tough to feel sorry for someone who’s a billionaire.

The fact is that people will embrace Tiger again, and whether you approve of this commercial or not, there had to be a first step. It’s okay to not like it, just don’t be surprised with it. But I understand the disgust many feel. Nike is cashing in on others’ pain; specifically Elin’s and the dozen-plus women Tiger “befriended” in various cities.

But really, it’s a job, and Tiger is just back to work.

I will say this, though, I’d hate to be Elin Woods as she’s just trying to relax around the house some afternoon, hoping to watch her stories with a box of a Fiddle-Faddle, when she suddenly has Tiger staring her down from the 200-inch plasma screen on the wall.

Should she put a nine-iron through the screen?
Just do it, Elin.

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