I may be completely naive or hopelessly optimitistic but I, for one, believe him.

I watched Tiger Woods’ public mea culpa, like millions of others,  expecting to come away cynical about what he had to say.  He is, afterall, a man who had lost his wife and his squeaky clean reputation and lots and lots of money.  He had plenty to gain by saying the right words and striking the right tone.  In our soundbite, quick-fix, low-attention-span world it might have been easy for the world’s greatest golfer to make his apologies and get back on the links and to his t.v. endorsements and for us to forgive him for being human and move on to the next big scandal.

Tiger could have simply confessed to his indiscretions, apologized to his wife and his sponsors and his fans, claimed he was ‘cured’ by his 45 days in rehab, headed back to the tour and been done with it.  But for me, what made the difference, the reason I believe him, is that he didn’t do that at all.  Instead, he announced he’s headed back to rehab.  To finish what he started. To really mean it.

Think about it.  How much easier would it have been for Tiger to cut his losses; to end things with his wife and live life as a divorced man where nobody would care how many women he slept with in a given week.  The world would eventually forgive and forget and once he was back winning majors again sponsors would be lining up to have him hock their products.

But Tiger chose a different path.  The hard path.  Don’t forget,  this is a man who is used to heavy lifting.  He didn’t become the world’s most famous athlete by taking the easy road.  He’s used to hard work.  Which is exactly what it’s going to take to put his marriage back together. 

In his statement, Tiger Woods’ revealed that his wife, Elin, told him the only way to prove to her that he is truly sorry for the pain he caused will be over time.  To never cheat again.  To be faithful to her and his vows.  To be the man we all thought he was.  She’s right.  Press conferences and prepared statements will never accomplish what can only be done, steadily, over time.  He closed by saying that he hoped the rest of us could all find it in our hearts to one day believe in him again.

 There’s no doubt in my mind that if he wants to, Tiger Woods can come out of this one day as a role model for young people that will have far greater, deeper implications than how many tournaments he won or how rich he became.  A man who fell from grace but who admitted his wrongdoings, asked for forgiveness, and worked like heck to prove he could be a better man.  That would be something to see. That  would be a life for young people, for all of us, to immulate.  And I, for one, will be rooting for him to do just that.