Apparently a pound of flesh from disgraced Brewers slugger Ryan Braun is not enough for us. We also want a paycheck from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
His crime was belief in a guy whose crime was to do what a good hunk of baseball was or is doing still. That’s how twisted this whole steroids thing has become; anything except unrepentant cynicism is viewed as embarrassingly naïve.
All of this began, for Rodgers at least, when a fan tweeted him about his friend Braun a year or so ago. The 2011 NL MVP had been embroiled in allegations from MLB that he had used PEDs, counter-allegations of mishandled samples and vehement proclamations of his innocence. Baseball slapped him with a 50-game suspension. He ended up walking on a technicality. And in typical Twitter fashion, fans went after Braun defenders like Rodgers.
Fan: “you really believe he didn’t you PED’s???? #delusional”
Rodgers: “ya, I’d put my salary next year on it. #ponyup #exonerated
Braun and Rodgers are co-owners of a Wisconsin-based eatery — 8-twelve MVP Bar & Grill. They were boys. They talked. And I am guessing Rodgers got the same “This is all B.S. I am completely innocent” and “I truly believe in my heart and I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body at any point” talk that Braun gave fans and media. Only Rodgers heard with the perspective of an athlete who has seen variation between what happens and what is reported.
Or maybe they were not that close. Or maybe he believed his friend.
Lying has become so pervasive in American culture that we no longer blame liars, or we do except with this caveat that we’re partially to blame for blindly believing them.
I have long since tired of caring about PED use by athletes, especially this dichotomy of right indignation with regards to baseball and willful ignorance elsewhere. As The Big Lead’s Ty Duffy so perfectly noted, we seamlessly transition from apoplectic rage at Braun to watching 300-pound offensive linemen run sub-5.0 40-yard dashes without comment. What I have come to abhor are liars, with their cover-their-ass-at-all-costs ethos. And yet I refuse to pretend they are only in sport, or that Braun is somehow alone.
We have seen that sort of willful disregard for the truth from the Wall St. bankers in the midst of the financial crisis, from politicians in every election cycle and most recently from New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, who after swearing up and down to having learned his lesson after being booted from Congress for sexting pictures of his very married junk to willing and unwilling participants continued to do so under the pseudonym Carlos Danger.
I guess my point is there is a large segment of the population who, when things get hard or they get into a sticky situation or they do not want to deliver bad news, lie. Lying is their default mechanism. They do this rather than face the moment with any kind of integrity. They do this to protect themselves at all cost.
Of course, the cost is high. If you tell the truth, it becomes a part of your past. And if you lie, it becomes a part of your future. There is no convincing liars of this, though. And there is no shaming them until that moment the truth is no longer evadable.
This moment came this week for Braun, who on Monday was suspended for the remainder of the season for violating MLB’s drug policy. Gone were his “we were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side” denials, giving way to “I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.”
We love everything about apologies in American culture — determining who owes them to us, demanding them from them and dissecting them upon their arrival. And so it was with Braun.
His failed on every account—too little, too late, too devoid of any substance or sincerity.
This skewering is probably properly applied even if the level of righteous indignation feels forced. He is just another baseball player using performance-enhancing drugs. He is just another person lying to cover his butt. He is just another liar.
What is to be gained from his apology? A real apology is not simply words after being caught rather a commitment to doing the right thing going forward. And why exactly does Braun owe us truth when we expect it from no one else?
All I know for sure is Rodgers owes us neither an apology nor a paycheck simply because he does not start from a place of everybody is lying.