It’s no easy feat to outdo Lance Armstrong, but Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun is giving it his best shot. After more than a year of denials, Braun acknowledged this week that he is indeed guilty of taking performance-enhancing drugs. His statement was issued by Major League Baseball, which said it would suspend him without pay for the rest of the 2013 season.
Even in this era of Armstrong-level deception, Braun’s turnabout was still a shock to the fans, players, and supporters. They could not have been mollified, either, by his narcissistic and insincere “apology”: “As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. […] Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed — all of the baseball fans, especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates.” Too much mea, too little culpa.
Braun neither apologized nor admitted wrongdoing of any kind, and the statement was rife with of language suggesting he still thinks this isn’t fair – he “may have made some mistakes,” though he’s “willing” to accept the consequences. Most strikingly, he reminds us again that he’s “not perfect,” just in case anyone still thought he was.
The media, who a la Lance also feel bamboozled, were unrestrained, calling Braun everything from a “liar nonpareil” to a snake and a cockroach. We’ll have to wait the cold Milwaukee winter to see if Brewers’ fans are the forgiving types.
THE PR VERDICT: “F” (Full Fiasco) for Ryan Braun, for issuing an apology as meaningless as his stats.
THE PR TAKEAWAY: When you say you’re sorry, say it. There will always be those who deride your words as hollow, but if you don’t actually apologize for your actions it’s likely that camp will grow. In the old days, it used to be game over for public figures who got caught with their literal or figurative pants down. Today’s fans and constituents are more forgiving, but there is still a limit to their compassion. Saying “I’m sorry” for mistakes made will always be the best course of action.