By Margaret Lyons
Updated February 19, 2010 at 07:04 PM EST

The widespread attention paid to Tiger Woods’ apology this morning proves that regardless of what we may think of him right now, the guy is way more than just a sports icon: He’s a major pop culture icon. And while sports stars ultimately live and die by their performance on the field, pop icons have a few more options. So how can Tiger use this pop culture status to reinvent his image?

1. Lighten up Hugh Grant’s self-effacing appearance on The Tonight Show back in the day completely resurrected his romcom image. Unfortunately, The Tonight Show is no longer the place to go if you’re looking to improve your public image. Try The Daily Show.

2. Dance with the Stars Part of the reason Woods’ sex scandal has so captured the pop imagination is that he’s always seemed too perfect — he was a squeaky-clean daddy and the greatest athlete his sport has ever known. Watching him screw up is titillating in its own Schadenfreude kind of way, so if Woods could divert scrutiny from his sex life to his cha cha, we’d all be a lot better off.

3. Cameo in a comedy Mike Tyson is a convicted rapist, and yet there he was on the Teen Choice Awards paling around with a Jonas brother, all thanks to his role in The Hangover.

4. Go back to golf ASAP Don’t wait too long to get back out there — after all, Charlie Sheen hasn’t missed a day of Two and a Half Men.

5. Oprah, Oprah, Oprah Oprah appearances can create — or recreate — public narratives. (Whitney Houston recently crafted the message of her “comeback” with a strategic Oprah interview.) Head to Chicago (with Elin, if she’ll join you), sit on the couch with a box of Kleenex, and let Oprah and her concerned glares ask all the annoying questions she wants.

Okay, PopWatchers, your turn: How do you think pop culture can help Tiger Woods salvage his public image?

Image credit: Tiger Woods: Caryn Levy/PGA TOUR/Getty Images; Dancing with the Stars: Adam Larkey/ABC

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Dancing With the Stars

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