New Tiger ad: Nike has lost its soul

Tiger Woods finally caught back up with his talent this week, and his destiny is within spitting distance once again. His long climb back to the world No. 1 ranking after career and life stumbles is, quite frankly, inspiring.

He lost his putting stroke, his wife and his reputation along the way. He had caddie issues, deep regret and unimaginable shame. He had critics and haters and his inner voice with which to contend. What Tiger did was crawl through a mile of s*** "Shawshank Redemption" Andy Dufresne style, come out clean on the other side only to walk into another s-storm.

Of Nike’s creation.

Nike decided to go with: “Winning takes care of everything” as a Facebook and Twitter ad Monday because, apparently, “go blank yourself” already had been taken.

Yes, the company that once brought us Just Do It, a phrase that motivated a generation to get back in the game and play ball, is now selling "sleep with people not named your wife in church parking lots, destroy your family, do so while its back is turned and as long as you win then Just Screw It."

This may be true. OK, probably is true.

Whether they intended the double entendre matters not in the least, although I highly doubt this was an accident. What I do not understand is what is in this for Tiger.

This controversy is good for Nike, not so good for their guy.

And this is just another in a long list of recent examples of how Nike has lost its soul. In the past year, we have seen a Nike shoe designer mock Derrick Rose’s knee injury on Twitter and Nike chairman Phil Knight’s tone-deaf attack of Joe Paterno’s “critics,” also known as kids who were raped on Penn State’s campus by an assistant coach that Paterno let hang around long after evidence had mounted. The company recently has had to part ways with runner Oscar Pistorius, accused of killing his girlfriend, and cyclist Lance Armstrong, guilty of Living Wrong.

The soul, I am guessing, is the first thing to go on the long road from brilliant idea to billion-dollar corporation. And soul has little to do with profits, so again Just Screw It.

Fast Company recently published its annual “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies” issue, and sitting at No. 1 was Nike, based on its FuelBand, a $150 bracelet that monitors your every move, and the Flyknit racer, which is another kind of running shoe. I do not know about the latter. I have not worn Nikes in forever.

I no longer am buying what Nike is selling. Because all companies, at least the good ones, are really just selling a feeling. When I walk into a Lululemon store for all of my yoga and running needs, I do so not simply because of quality but also because I have bought into their manifesto that includes phrases such as “do one thing a day that scares you” and “this is not your practice life. this is all there is.” What was once a we-are-all-athletes ethos at Nike has morphed into this overriding belief that athletes are better than us, angry anti-heroes to be worshipped, not questioned, and dressed like, not inspired by.

Just Buy It. Just Deal With It. Just Screw It.

And how is that working out for guys like Tiger and LeBron? Look no further than LeBron James for an example of the soulless genius that is Nike. He, too, had created a mile of you know what to crawl through and Nike also ensured a s-storm awaiting him with that angry, ill-advised and ultimately regrettable “Rise” commercial in which he played victim and uttered phrases like “Should I really believe I ruined my legacy?” and “Should I just sell shoes?”

It endeared him to nobody. And poked Michael Jordan — Client Zero for Nike. He responded with, you guessed it, a Nike commercial called “Maybe” where he punked then-ringless LeBron about 20 times in 60 seconds including this ender:

“Maybe, you are just making excuses.”

Like with Tiger, this was great for Nike. They had their all-time best pitchman against the next big thing. What was not fair was how this set up a good vs. evil showdown, and how it was a game LeBron could not win.

It feels like so long ago. Almost everybody likes LeBron now.

And contrary to what Nike is selling, it is not because “winning takes care of everything.” It was actually a Samsung commercial in which we saw LeBron eating cereal and laughing with his family, getting texts from Magic and from the kids at The Boys and Girls Club, posing with fans and just generally being grateful to have finally won.

The music was perfect, the tone just right. No longer simply a pawn in a shoe game, we were able to see LeBron as a good dude.

How we might be seeing Tiger right now if not for Nike.

It is time for Tiger to start a revolution and say Just Screw It.