In 2011, Milwaukee Brewers superstar Ryan Braun was acquitted of PED use on a technicality. At that point, fellow Wisconsin sports icon Aaron Rodgers went to Twitter to back up his friend in a huge way. The Green Bay Packers quarterback even went so far as to bet one user an entire year’s salary that Braun was, indeed, innocent.
Only a short couple of years later, however, Braun publicly admitted to the use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career. His admission has resulted in a suspension for the remainder of the 2013 season (65 games) without pay (more than $3 million).
Following the Packers’ first day of training camp, the media was frothing to chat to Rodgers, not about anything that took place on the field in northern Wisconsin, but about Braun, PED use, Twitter, their friendship and their shared restaurant venture, 8-Twelve.
“I was shocked, I really was, just like many of you were,” Rodgers said in a jam-packed press gathering in front of his locker after the Packers’ first training camp practice. “I was backing up a friend. He looked me in the eye on multiple occasions and repeatedly denied these allegations and said they were not true.”
“So, it is disappointing, not only for myself as a friend, but for obviously Wisconsin sports fans, Brewer fans, really baseball fans. It doesn’t feel great being lied to like that and I’m disappointed in the way it all went down.”
Rodgers is, of course, correct. Had Braun simply told the truth in 2011, the outfielder would have served a 50-game suspension and come back to the team, hopefully clean. Instead, he will always be branded as one of the game’s most high-profile liars and one of the biggest goats in the history of Wisconsin sports.
A violation of trust always seems to hurt far worse, as Rodgers notes to reporters.
“I was disappointed in the way it went down. … I trusted him. That’s the thing that probably hurts the most.”
While Rodgers’ feelings may be hurt, the Super Bowl champ also has a business to worry about. Rodgers and Braun already have one successful 8-Twelve restaurant in the greater Milwaukee area and a second is in the works. Despite everything, however, Rodgers doesn’t regret sticking up for his friend.
“That’s yet to be determined,” Rodgers said. “I don’t regret backing a friend up. Obviously in hindsight a more measured approach would obviously be a better course of action. I definitely believe in forgiveness and moving forward. He has a tough task in front of him moving forward with his career, on and off the field.
“As far as the business goes, right now I’m focused on football and I have people who can help me with those issues.”
Rodgers has a team to lead and an NFC North and Super Bowl title to chase. Now is not the time for him to worry about a liar and potentially former friend.
Braun, however, has plenty of time to worry about his actions (or lack thereof) now that he won’t be playing any baseball until next spring.
[H/T: Bleacher Report]