And so it is official. What we all suspected was true officially came to light today: Mark McGwire admitted he used steroids “off and on” for more than a decade during his career, including his legendary 1998 season.
One of the harsher reactions coming out of the past player camp was from Hall of Famer and former Chicago Cub great Ryne Sandberg. He told the Des Moines Register that McGwire’s formal admission “stains the game,” was “too late” and “does nothing to help him at all.”
Other critics have been expressing their disdain for the carefully crafted approach to the public confession, which included a statement delivered to the Associated Press, a one-on-one interview with Bob Costas and former manager and new employer Tony LaRussa hitting the interview circuit to demonstrate his support (including on ESPN/ESPN.com).
McGwire’s “coming clean,” which also included calling the family of Roger Maris and the commissioner of baseball, could also be construed as more of a conscience-cleaner. Still, whether suggested by handlers/image makers or something he personally felt strongly about, it was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, McGwire’s “I’m sorry” moment is long overdue. In fact, in light of his job offer to become the hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals this spring, it also comes off as self-serving.
Too much, too little, too late as Sandberg suggests? I don’t think so. As Matt and I have written (and counsel our clients) so often, in any adverse situation, admitting guilt, apologizing and seeking contrition is Step 1 in the long road to image rehabilitation. This spring and summer, that road will be fraught with cameras and questions, jeers and, just maybe, cheers?