Could things get any worse for Tiger Woods? Well, yes, as a matter of fact they can, as hard as that is to believe. Take a look at the latest cover of Vanity Fair magazine, which you can see right here, along with the article, and of course right in front of your eyes. My first reaction when hearing about this and that Annie Leibovitz did the photo shoot was to cringe. It can’t be good. Her photography is so penetrating and in your face, that it’s almost uncomfortable to look at sometimes.

My second reaction when I actually saw it was to be amazed at the power of perception. If I, or any of us, had seen it prior to his “troubles,” our impressions would have likely been positive. His absolute dominance in his sport, the athlete of the decade, and the most popular athlete in the world, his discipline, work ethic, focus, all of these things and more could have come to mind. Now what do we see?

What I see spells creepy. Most of us probably look at this photograph now with all we know, or think we know, with a certain kind of revulsion. How could he do it, throw away not only his family, but literally hundreds of millions of dollars and all the respect he’s earned over the past 14 years? Students of human nature with all its millennia of gory predictability shouldn’t be all that surprised. The Vanity Fair article’s conclusion captures it fairly well:

In the end it was the age-old clash of image versus reality, the compartmentalization of two different lives that inevitably merge at some certain point, whoever you are. He exhibited the same superhuman confidence off the golf course that he exhibited on it, apparently convinced he would never be caught despite the stupid sloppiness at the end—text messages, voice-mail messages. He deluded himself into thinking he could be something that he wasn’t: untouchable. The greatest feat of his career is that he managed to get away with it for so long in public, the bionic man instead of the human one who hit a fire hydrant.

As the saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It appeared that he had it all, but now all he has lies tattered in ruins. A word to the wise.