New Tiger Woods Nike Commercial Debuts Today

But some point out that Earl Woods was hardly a paragon of fidelity. He reportedly cheated on his wife, Tiger Woods' mother.

"All this reverence about Tiger's father really gets on my nerves when the man was a known womanizer and probably Tiger learned some lessons from him in that department," Lippert said. "To say he forgot all the great things he was raised on is not exactly true. He kind of embodied all the stuff he was raised on."

In sports and advertising, there's an incentive to mythologize the fathers of athletes, she said.

"Especially in sports culture, we have this reverence for fathers who teach their sons how to be great, how to be champions," she said. "It's not like you can make a really dramatic commercial out of a father who was really wanting."

Nonetheless, the way Nike apparently has invested itself in repairing Woods' image is unprecedented, she said. The athletic apparel and shoe company may be making such an unusual move because it has so much riding on Woods, she added.

Woods "is Nike Golf," Lippert said. "I would think a lot of people will look at it and who will be angry because they really feel like Tiger is guilty as hell and is getting off easy, but I think this is what they [Nike] have to do in terms of straight-ahead capitalist business."

Nike is one of the few sponsors that have stuck with Woods since late 2009 as news surfaced that the married Woods, once an iconic athlete and family man, has had affairs with multiple women.

Before Woods' scandals broke, Forbes estimated that the world's most famous golfer, 34, had earned more than $1 billion through his career, thanks largely through lucrative sponsorship deals with Nike, EA Sports, Gillette, Gatorade, Accenture, AT&T and watch maker Tag Heuer.

'Benefit of the Doubt' for Woods

In recent months, Gatorade, Accenture and AT&T have dropped Woods. Tag Heuer and Gillette have scaled back their Woods' marketing. Overall, Woods may have lost some $50 million in endorsements, Woodard said.

Companies began backing away from Woods in December after he announced that he would take "an indefinite break from professional golf" to deal with family issues -- most likely spurred by published claims of at least 11 extramarital affairs and reported links to prostitutes.

It was "the greatest fall from grace, in my opinion, of anybody in sports history," ABC News sports consultant and USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan told "World News." "Tiger was such a cultural icon, crossing over from sports into society in such a big way."

But the advertisers who stuck with Woods, including Nike and EA, may feel that now is a good time to "dip their toes in the water" and run Woods advertising, Woodard said.

At Augusta so far, "fans are giving him the benefit of the doubt," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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