|February 13, 2009|
|MLB, Players Should Follow A-Rod's Lead|
|By Greg Hazley|
|Alex Rodriguez finally got some good PR advice and came clean today in an interview with ESPN.com, admitting to taking steroids for three years. |
The scores of other players who also juiced up their numbers, along with Major League Baseball, should follow his lead and own up to the mistakes of the past to exorcise the demons of the steroid era.
For an athlete obsessed with managing his image, A-Rod’s recent history has been a series of image disasters and mishandled press ops.
Richard Rubenstein of Rubenstein PR has worked with the slugger through his rocky divorce and tabloid floggings and likely deserves some credit for Rodriguez’ mea culpa.
Sports Illustrated’s website posted a report on Saturday morning that said Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003, the year he won the American League Most Valuable Player Award as a member of the Texas Rangers.
The PR game plan for most players named in similar reports over the last few years has been to clam up, dance around the subject or flat-out deny the use of performance-enhancing substances, usually while continuing to collect millions of dollars in salary. When a group of players was hauled before Congress four years ago on St. Patrick’s Day, the results were comical and a tremendous blow to Major League Baseball, a $6 billion business.
So when we read the SI.com report Saturday morning and read that A-Rod referred the magazine to the player’s union declining to comment, we figured he’d be the next player to blow the chance to come clean and put a shadowy past behind him.
But here he is, two days later, talking to one of baseball journalism’s most respected scribes, Peter Gammons of ESPN, in a shaky voice: “I did take a banned substance. For that I'm very sorry and deeply regretful,” he said.
So kudos to A-Rod for coming clean, even though he cheated and might not ever live down the mistake. For someone so concerned with his public image, the revelation is likely devastating.
But the other 100 baseball players who also flunked the steroid tests in 2003 should follow Rodriguez’ lead and come clean. It’s a classic PR play. Get the damaging info out there before someone else gets it.
And while we’re cheering A-Rod’s disclosure, it’s important to point out to Major League Baseball that it’s 2009, six years after the issue really exploded, and we’re still talking about steroids as the biggest story in the sport. In much of the business world, the inability to turn the page usually results in a change at the top.
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