Upper Deck says it will stand by Tiger

Trading card company Upper Deck said it "Stands by Tiger Woods" in a statement released Dec. 15.

Woods has served as an exclusive spokesman and autograph signer for Upper Deck since 2001. In the company’s first public comments since Woods’ Nov. 27 car crash triggered a flurry of reports about his alleged extramarital affairs, Upper Deck chief executive Richard McWilliam said that both the company’s sports trading cards and memorabilia/collectibles divisions will continue their exclusive relationships with the world’s No. 1 golfer.

"We look forward to his eventual return to the PGA Tour," McWilliam said in a statement. "Tiger and his family have our full support."

After admitting to marital "infidelity" in a statement on his website Dec. 11, Woods said he’s taking an "indefinite" leave from pro golf to try to salvage his marriage to wife Elin Nordegren. He’s not been seen in public or
done any interviews since the accident.

The world’s richest athlete makes most of his estimated $100 million-a-year income by endorsing companies such as Upper Deck, Nike, AT&T, Gatorade and Gillette.

Now that a few weeks have elapsed, Woods’ corporate sponsors are dividing into different camps. Here’s a breakdown of who is, and who’s not, supporting Team Tiger:

Out (1): Accenture cut ties with Woods on Sunday, marking the first sponsor to drop him since the scandal erupted. The global consulting firm said Woods was "no longer the right" representative after the "circumstance of the last
two weeks."

Accenture had previously touted Woods as the ultimate symbol of high performance. The firm’s ad campaigns featured slogans that now seem more suited for a Saturday Night Live skit. Among them: "Go On. Be a Tiger" and "We know what it takes to be a Tiger."

In (4): Nike, Electronic Arts, NetJets and now Upper Deck publicly support Woods and say they’ll maintain their business relationships.

On the fence (4): Tag Heuer and AT&T say they’re evaluating or assessing their ongoing relationship with Woods.

Procter & Gamble’s Gillette says it will limit Woods role in its razor blade marketing efforts. Pepsi’s Gatorade dropped its Tiger-focused line of sports drink. But Gatorade said it made that call before Woods’ car crash.

No Comment (1): TLC Laser Eye Centers has not returned calls about Woods. But the company’s website still has an audio recording of TLC’s most famous patient extolling the results of his LASIK eye surgery in 1999.

Woods’ popularity among consumers has nosedived. According to the latest results of the USA/TODAY Gallup poll, Woods’ "favorable" rating dropped to 33% in the latest poll conducted this month from 85% in his last poll in
2005.

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