So Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun has decided to emerge from the shadows and release a statement of apology for his involvement with the use of performance enhancing drugs and his conduct of trying to hide the truth since 2011. How wonderful.
By now you know that I am not one to grandstand on the issue of doping in sports. I acknowledge that it’s pretty common, but it doesn’t outrage me like it does many others. I see it in line with other manners of cheating. Spitballs, amphetamines, corked bats…it’s all one in the same – an effort to gain a competitive advantage in a world where competitiveness is one’s livelihood.
What I absolutely do hate are phonies. Fake people. Snake oil salesmen. And what Braun is trying to feed us with this statement has really irked me.
For one, a written statement is a coward’s way out. If Braun wanted to truly convey his remorse, he would have done so without regard for his personal image – in front of microphones while fielding all questions. Instead, we get a written statement, edited by lawyers and publicists, and released to the masses.
And for another, the statement itself is just hard to take at face value. It’s almost as if he’s trying, again, to convince us that what we think we saw we did not see. But the average sports fan is not naive.
Here is Braun’s statement in full, along with my reaction to what is written:
Now that the initial MLB investigation is over, I want to apologize for my actions and provide a more specific account of what I did and why I deserved to be suspended. I have no one to blame but myself. I know that over the last year and a half I made some serious mistakes, both in the information I failed to share during my arbitration hearing and the comments I made to the press afterwards
I have disappointed the people closest to me — the ones who fought for me because they truly believed me all along. I kept the truth from everyone. For a long time, I was in denial and convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong.
I appreciate the honesty. This reminds me of the infamous George Costanza statement: “Just remember: it’s not a lie if you believe it.”
It is important that people understand that I did not share details of what happened with anyone until recently. My family, my teammates, the Brewers organization, my friends, agents and advisors had no knowledge of these facts, and no one should be blamed but me. Those who put their necks out for me have been embarrassed by my behavior. I don’t have the words to express how sorry I am for that.
Why, Ryan? I hate when athletes do this. If it is true that you have lied to all of these people who are so close to you, then you should apologize to them personally. Including them in this statement, which was obviously intended for the public at large, just reeks of a ploy for publicity. It’s an attempt to show the entire world how contrite you are by pointing out all of these other individuals who you are specifically apologizing to. So in a sense, it’s faux contrition that’s all for show to evoke sympathy from the masses. Nice try.
Here is what happened. During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn’t have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation. It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately.
So the story now is that you DID use performance enhancing drugs, but it was only in 2011 and it was to recover from an injury, not to improve performance. Here’s the problem, Ryan. Because you have been lying to everyone – your friends, family, teammates, organization, agents and the fans – for years now, how can we be expected to believe any “admission” you make now? All of your actions to this point have been motivated by the need to preserve your image. At first you didn’t want people to believe you had taken any banned substances. And now you want people to believe that you only took them in order to rehabilitate an injury and get back on the playing field. There’s another problem. That’s the same story Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez tried to feed us a few years ago. How’d that turn out?
Fans were willing to forgive Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte when he admitted his use of HGH twice to heal faster from an injury, not to improve his performance. But there is a key difference between your situation and his: Pettitte came clean immediately. He was not caught in any lies before he came forward to ask everyone for forgiveness. And Pettitte was brave enough to call a press conference and make his apology in person.
I deeply regret many of the things I said at the press conference after the arbitrator’s decision in February 2012. At that time, I still didn’t want to believe that I had used a banned substance. I think a combination of feeling self righteous and having a lot of unjustified anger led me to react the way I did. I felt wronged and attacked, but looking back now, I was the one who was wrong. I am beyond embarrassed that I said what I thought I needed to say to defend my clouded vision of reality. I am just starting the process of trying to understand why I responded the way I did, which I continue to regret. There is no excuse for any of this.
Self righteousness and anger? Wronged and attacked? What could possibly make you feel that way? It sounds better to make it sound like you were the one being victimized, but the truth is you were so determined to prevent the world from finding out the truth that you were willing to victimize others. You claim that you are just now starting the process of understanding why you responded the way you did? Let me help out. You had been caught, you were frustrated and desperate and wanted the world to believe you were innocent. And you made the conscious decision that you were willing to say and do whatever it took to make that happen.
For too long during this process, I convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong. After my interview with MLB in late June of this year, I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth. I was never presented with baseball’s evidence against me, but I didn’t need to be, because I knew what I had done. I realized the magnitude of my poor decisions and finally focused on dealing with the realities of-and the punishment for-my actions.
You mean after your interview with MLB in late June, you realized the jig was up. They had you dead to rights. There was no positive test, but there was so much evidence against you that no amount of defiance would save you like it had done previously. You may not have personally been presented with baseball’s evidence, but I’m sure someone within your inner circle – an agent, adviser or associate – was made aware of just what you were facing, which is why you came to MLB to cut a deal.
I requested a second meeting with (MLB) to acknowledge my violation of the drug policy and to engage in discussions about appropriate punishment for my actions. By coming forward when I did and waiving my right to appeal any sanctions that were going to be imposed, I knew I was making the correct decision and taking the first step in the right direction. It was important to me to begin my suspension immediately to minimize the burden on everyone I had so negatively affected — my teammates, the entire Brewers organization, the fans and all of MLB. There has been plenty of rumor and speculation about my situation, and I am aware that my admission may result in additional attacks and accusations from others.
The second meeting with MLB was more likely to negotiate and accept a deal, in light of the fact that you knew you had been nailed. It just so happens that accepting the deal necessarily requires an acknowledgment that you had violated the drug policy. You make it sound like you did some great thing by coming forward and by waiving your right to appeal. You came forward because if you didn’t, baseball was going to drag you forward kicking and screaming anyway. And the waiver of the right to appeal wasn’t voluntary; it was a necessary component of MLB’s offer to you. And of course you accepted it. You got off extremely easy with those 65 games. You’ll sit out the rest of this already-squandered Brewers season, and come back ready to play for the beginning of 2014.
I love the great game of baseball and I am very sorry for any damage done to the game. I have privately expressed my apologies to Commissioner Selig and Rob Manfred of MLB and to Michael Weiner and his staff at the Players’ Association. I’m very grateful for the support I’ve received from them. I sincerely apologize to everybody involved in the arbitration process, including the collector, Dino Laurenzi, Jr. I feel terrible that I put my teammates in a position where they were asked some very difficult and uncomfortable questions. One of my primary goals is to make amends with them.
Again, you feel the need to tell us all the individuals you have already apologized to, and others you personally need to? Save it, and tell them directly. And how, exactly, are you planning on making amends to your teammates? What, are you going to buy them a nice steak dinner or something?
I understand it’s a blessing and a tremendous honor to play this game at the major league level. I also understand the intensity of the disappointment from teammates, fans, and other players. When it comes to both my actions and my words, I made some very serious mistakes and I can only ask for the forgiveness of everyone I let down. I will never make the same errors again and I intend to share the lessons I learned with others so they don’t repeat my mistakes. Moving forward, I want to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem.
I support baseball’s Joint Drug Treatment and Prevention Program and the importance of cleaning up the game. What I did goes against everything I have always valued — achieving through hard work and dedication, and being honest both on and off the field. I also understand that I will now have to work very, very hard to begin to earn back people’s trust and support. I am dedicated to making amends and to earning back the trust of my teammates, the fans, the entire Brewers’ organization, my sponsors, advisors and from MLB. I am hopeful that I can earn back the trust from those who I have disappointed and those who are willing to give me the opportunity. I am deeply sorry for my actions, and I apologize to everyone who has been adversely affected by them.
If you’re sincere in your contrition, this written statement should only be the beginning. First, if you ever expect the fans and the media to truly forgive you, you are going to have to stand in front of a microphone and take questions on this topic. In so doing, you’re also going to have to be 100% forthcoming and honest. You need to talk about what exactly you took, why you took it, what it did for you. You need to talk about incidents, how you acted, and why you acted the way you did. And you need to talk about the Biogenesis investigation, your involvement with the clinic, and the decision to negotiate a deal with baseball. If you keep things hidden, if there remain any mysteries surrounding you and the use of performance enhancing drugs, then there will always be doubt, speculation and accusations. I don’t expect you to become an anti-doping advocate. There’s no need to travel the country and to try an educate people about performance enhancing drugs. That wouldn’t be sincere, anyway. But you need to become an open and honest book on the subject for anyone who wants to approach you and talk about the issue, whether that be the media, baseball or fans.