On Thursday night, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun broke his month-long silence after being suspended for the remainder of the season on July 22 for violating MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program when he released this statement:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Holy cow! Could he have said more to say the few words that he needed to say: “I made a mistake. I regret the decisions that I have made, the people who were affected by my actions, and I am deeply sorry for all of the lies that impacted the lives of fans, teammates, my family, friends, the organization, and the league.” Even taking the machismo way out and, as my friend Sid said, state: “I’m sorry. I lied. None of my handlers knew I lied. I did it again. Forgive me. Pete Rose Gambled. Dock Ellis pitched on acid. Ty Cobb was a racist. And Mickey Mantle was a drunk. All I wanted to do is play.”
Here’s the thing…missing a month of anything that you love can make you reflective, but has it changed Ryan Braun? Is he going to be more humble, more honest, and a harder worker, or is he the monster that attacked the integrity and livelihood of Dino Laurenzi, Jr., a lowly urine collector? Can Ryan Braun repair the damage that he has done to the Brewers organization, who have another $133 million (including the $20 million option in 2021) remaining in their investment?
The continuation of Braun’s unwillingness to accept his guilt until the realization of his pending suspension speaks volumes to the self-righteousness, which he refers to, within sports. In baseball, we see players assume that they are above the law while using steroids. In other sports, we see players conducting murders, drug deals, beating their wives and girlfriends, and raping women, which makes the problems that continue within baseball seem minuscule, but all of these things are still bad for the individuals sports, but, in particular, society.
Athletes are given money and fame that they just can’t seem to handle. Look at what Johnny Manziel is going through from his monster freshman season in college football last year, capped by winning the Heisman Trophy – Manziel signing autographs and partying is now followed by ESPN and TMZ like the paparazzi follows Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian. The spotlight is overwhelming and the desire to fulfill expectations as a leader and elite member of society is more valuable than leading a normal, happy life. Why settle for being a solid major league regular when you can have a cream or a lozenge to get you an MVP award and a nine-figure extension?
Braun fell into the trap, where the long-term goal of banking was more important than doing the right thing. The money involved in sports is asinine. No human being is worth $20 million per season, especially to play a game, and while there are revenue streams and billionaires who are capable of paying their players these types of exorbitant contracts, does that make it right?
I feel like sports are full of people like Braun, who will do whatever they need to do to get to the top, at any cost (including their own body), to reach their full earning potential during their brief careers. This redundant rhetoric seems all too common in our current elitism society. This apology will satisfy some, but to me, it is just more B.S. from another scumbag who was willing to throw anyone under the bus but himself for his actions.
While I am not against voting in players from the steroid era into the Hall of Fame, I also feel like that era is over with, as it wasn’t being policed during Barry Bonds‘ hey-day. Braun, to me, cheated when he knew that testing was on-going, and, while I feel that MLB is to blame for the rampant use in the 1990’s and early-2000’s in an effort to draw more fans after the 1994 strike, the blame now lies on the players for making the choice to cheat.