Admission, Redemption Unlikely in Wake of Mitchell Report

Roger Clemens. Andy Pettitte. Miguel Tejada. The players named in Senator George Mitchell’s 400-page report on steroid use in Major League Baseball range from Cy Young Award winners and MVPs to marginals and also-rans. Their common bond? They may be cheaters who now have a cloud of doubt and dishonesty hanging over them.

So what’s next for these individuals? If any are, indeed, guilty of such indiscretions, someone could start by admitting fault and taking responsibility for their actions. I appeared live on WWJ-AM Newsradio 950 this week with Greg Bowman, prior to the report’s release Thursday, to discuss “rehabbing” a reputation.

At Tanner Friedman, we always counsel our clients in crisis communications situations not to lie. Think how many instances of high-profile indiscretions, in time, largely go away when someone (a) admits fault (b) apologizes and shows contrition and (c) takes some sort of corrective action. We are a forgiving society. Even Michael Vick will someday be “reborn.”

In this case, it appears, there will only be denials and smoke and mirrors. Already, the reputations and motivations of the accusers, also named in the Mitchell Report, are being questioned and discredited by players and their agents. Is this lying? Not necessarily. On the other hand, has anyone named in this report stepped forward, looked the fans directly in the eye and said: “I have never, ever taken steroids or performance enhancing drugs, period!”? The players’ silence in this matter, could, in time, mirror their absence from the halls of Cooperstown.