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Another sorry apology

Sun., March 15, 2009

Mistakes, we all make them.

Regrets, well, we all have a few.

Alex Rodriguez surely had some about shooting up with steroids, though, curiously enough, he didn’t mention them until he was outed for testing positive.

His biggest one now seems to be that he got caught for what he wants you to believe was a youthful indiscretion.

Michael Phelps has some to, and who can blame him? One picture of him smoking a bong figures to long trump the Sports Illustrated cover of him with eight gold medals around his neck.

Like Rodriguez, he has an explanation. Does the phrase “immature and stupid” ring a bell?

Don’t be confused if you get a serious case of deja vu tonight watching Phelps answering questions posed by Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Dateline” in what the network advertises as an “exclusive” first television interview by Phelps since the infamous picture of him with the bong surfaced in a British tabloid.

Never mind that Phelps has already told print journalists basically the same things he tells Lauer and that he is so uninteresting he is painful to watch. Exclusive in this case means a chance to make even more prime-time money off Phelps than NBC managed to squeeze out of his golden run in Beijing.

Judging from the segment that was used as a teaser on the “Today” show, you could have replaced Phelps with Rodriguez, Lauer with Peter Gammons, and marijuana with steroids and the interview would have been eerily the same as the one Rodriguez offered up last month.

Phelps has contracts with advertisers and sponsors, who need to be reassured that they aren’t throwing their money away on someone a lot of people are going to think of as a stoner first and a swimmer second.

That’s the reason Phelps did the taping with Lauer, who could be counted on to help in the damage control process and eventual rehabilitation to superstar by the time of the 2012 Olympics, which his network just happens to be broadcasting. To his credit, Lauer asked the requisite questions, but he didn’t seem to hear any of the answers.

Maybe that’s because he, like all of us, has heard them before.

Phelps, it turns out, made some mistakes, though he declined to say just what they were. He was young and stupid, of course, but now that he’s seen the error of his ways his advice to children who see him or other athletes as role models is to take responsibility for your mistakes.

So, kids, next time you do something bad, go to your parents and tell them you did something bad. Just don’t tell them what it was.

We all know what this was, of course. Not too many people attach their lips to a bong without having some kind of underlying reason for it.

But wouldn’t it be nice for Phelps to just come clean and cut out the charade? Is there any point of wasting our time in prime time on national TV in what is really nothing more than an effort to appease sponsors and NBC?

There isn’t, of course, just like there was no reason to watch Rodriguez or Jason Giambi, either.

It’s all manufactured damage control, scripted by someone in a PR office somewhere.

And by now the script has grown stale.


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