What more can David Ortiz say?
Will an athletes’ apology ever be sincere enough, filled with enough regret or show enough repentance to be deemed acceptable?
Vick paid his debt to society for running a dogfighting ring. He lost everything and admitted he deserved to lose everything.
Now the Eagles have given him another shot in the NFL, another opportunity to live up to his potential. He’s vowed to do the right thing, be a positive role model for kids and prove that he’s changed for the better – not just with words, but through his actions.
For some, that’s not good enough. They don’t want to believe his 60 Minutes interview with James Brown. They call Vick an unremorseful thug and look for any reason to discount his quest for redemption.
"Did you see Vick blink when he answered that question? Did you see his lips move? Did you see him breathe? He’s clearly lying … about something. He’s not sorry – he’s only sorry he got caught."
Everybody deserves a chance to show that they’ve learned from their mistakes and turned their life around.
Vick is no exception.
Neither is Big Papi.
The Red Sox’ slugger stood up before the world to come clean, tell his side of the story and explain why his name was among the 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003. He said he was careless with his use of supplements, apologized to the Red Sox and fans, and denied ever buying or using steroids.
That explanation wasn’t good enough for everyone. Some refuse to take Ortiz at face value.
"Yeah, sure Papi didn’t know what he was taking. He’s as dirty as any of those other dirty rotten scoundrels."
It doesn’t matter that legal protocol prevented the players union from disclosing the substance which triggered the positive result. It doesn’t matter that in 2003, Major League Baseball didn’t have any drug-testing policies in place to guard against abuse.
All that matters is Ortiz has not satisfied the court of public opinion.
Call it the Sorry Isn’t Enough Effect. In a world overflowing with cynicism, people don’t want to buy what reformed troublemakers are selling. They don’t want to believe the words that are coming out of athletes’ mouths. They don’t even want to even give them a chance to see if they can be believed.
On one hand, it is understandable. Fans have been burned by athletes who professed one thing but turned out to be lying. But that doesn’t mean everyone is full of baloney. To paint everyone with the same brush just perpetuates distrust.
Look, dogfighting is reprehensible. It is a horrible and indefensible crime. That’s why Vick spent 18 months in Leavenworth. To continue to punish him is wrong. To not let him move on with his life is as cold-hearted as a dog killer. To continue to vilify him without giving him the chance to do the positive community work he says he’s going to do is unfair.
The same is true with Ortiz.
Cheating is bad, but it’s nothing new in baseball. Players have been looking to gain an edge since Pud Galvin was injected with monkey steroids in 1889. In the case of Ortiz, there’s a big difference between knowingly taking an illegal substance and unknowingly taking something that contained a banned substance. Is it so implausible to think Ortiz was using a protein mix from the Dominican Republic that contained a banned substance, or buying an over-the-counter supplement from GNC that included something on the off-limits list?
We will never know the absolute truth about who did what when, but there are enough shadows of doubt to fill every stadium in the majors. That’s what makes the reaction to the Ortiz news so hypocritical.
Where is the outrage toward Major League Baseball, which let the PED culture fester while pearls flew out of parks at historic rates and gate money rolled in like tsunamis. Or the owners, who chose to turn a blind eye and fill the vaults instead of rocking the boat and messing with a good thing? Or how about the players union, which did everything in its power except declare war to protect players from being tested?
There’s plenty of blame to go around for the Steroid Era, but David Ortiz is the one who’s taking the brunt of the criticism. He’s been hung out to dry, thrown under the bus and left to answer for everyone’s misdeeds.
It’s time to move forward and give him and Vick a break.
Nobody’s perfect. When athletes are big enough to admit this, they should be commended, not castigated.