It’s a devastating blow to Braun’s reputation and another black eye for the public image of baseball, which continues to deal with scrutiny as it relates to the use of steroids and other illegal substances by players.
Yet, using drugs isn’t the worst thing Ryan Braun did in this entire situation.
The bigger mistake was when he lied about it.
He tested positive for a banned substance following the 2011 MLB season. However, because of a technicality and error with the way the sample was submitted, he was able to avoid a suspension.
This would have been the time for Braun to come clean in the court of public opinion. Instead, he chose to deny using any PED’s and he attacked the individual responsible for collecting his sample. Similar to Lance Armstrong, he did what he could to ruin a person’s life who was simply trying to do his job. And similar to Lance Armstrong, he’s been exposed as a lying cheat.
Any smart public relations professional will tell you that the most important thing to do in a crisis situation is to be honest. The truth always comes out, so it’s foolish to try to hide it, even if it means facing an initial wave of criticism.
Ryan Braun must not know any smart PR people. His decision to deny and accuse has now come back to punch him in the face.
The general public is willing to forgive people when they get caught making a mistake. There are some die-hard baseball fans who would have hated Braun for taking PEDs, but the majority of fans would have been willing to forgive him if he’d initially owned up to his mistake and simply served his suspension. He could have come back and had a chance to redeem himself.
Not now. And maybe not ever.
People don’t like being lied to. Ryan Braun has now lost any sort of credibility or trust and he’ll never be viewed in a similar fashion again. He was once regarded as one of the brightest young stars in the game. Now, he’ll always be looked at as a guy who will do anything to avoid getting caught.
Fans can forgive a player trying to gain a competitive advantage. Fans don’t forgive being treated like fools.
Today, Ryan Braun lost the opportunity to play baseball for the rest of the season. But he also lost much more than that. He lost many people’s respect for the rest of his life.