While it appears that the flood of accounts from alleged mistresses may finally be drying up, the Tiger Woods saga is far from over. Woods’ marriage is still reportedly hanging by a thread and wife Elin Nordegren could leave him any day - though it now appears that she’ll wait until after the holidays if she is going to do anything at all.
Accenture has dropped Woods outright, and Gillette, Gatorade and Tag Heuer have all scaled back Woods as a company spokesman. AT&T has also made clear that its plans for Woods are in a holding pattern. But one company that has a significant contractual arrangement that no one seems to be talking about is EA Sports.
A week into the revelations of Woods’ infidelity, EA Sports, like Nike and Gatorade at the time, was still firmly in Woods’ camp with this public statement on Dec. 1: “Our strong relationship with Tiger for more than a decade remains unchanged. We respect Tiger’s privacy, we wish him a fast recovery and we look forward to seeing him back on the golf course.”
Now comes this statement from EA Sports last week: “We respect that this is a very difficult, and private, situation for Tiger and his family. At this time, the strategy for our Tiger Woods PGA Tour business remains unchanged.”
Obviously EA Sports’ support of Woods is waning. At least if the change in rhetoric is any indication.
Woods is the face of the EA Sports PGA TOUR golf game much the way John Madden has been for its NFL football franchise, with the game is similarly updated and re-released every year, so Electronic Arts will soon have to make a decision if it wants Woods to be the face of its 2011 product.
There’s certainly a possibility that Woods could still be facing a divorce and the prospect of more sordid details of his alt-lifestyle surfacing in the media. But for EA Sports, the biggest factor in maintaining its relationship with Woods may be the golfer’s recent announcement that he has halted his golf career indefinitely.
If Woods isn’t back on the course for 2010, it’ll be a hard sell going forward for EA to brand its signature golf game after Woods.