I struggle with players who wait to deny allegations of PED use. They defer questions. They gesture to “the process” and the need to “let things play out.” They insist that the truth will eventually emerge and clear their name. Here’s the question: why don’t they just deny it from the start?
Gonzalez was a surprise name in the Miami New Times report on Tuesday. Image: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Presumably part of these non-denials stems from legal advice. Somebody behind the scenes tells the player to stay low and not say anything that might cause further damage. Even still, if you are innocent, what damage can it possibly do to state that you are innocent? Why do you have to wait to say that?
“I’ve never used performance-enhancing drugs of any kind, and I never will. I’ve never met or spoken with Tony Bosch or used any substances provided by him. Anything said to the contrary is a lie.”
That’s what I’m talking about!
Look, I understand that these direct denials are not always truthful (ahem, Rafael Palmeiro anybody?) But Gonzalez did not wait to prepare a carefully worded statement or hide behind “the process.” He confronted the allegation head-on and denied it.
Contrast it with another denial from yesterday…that of one Ray Lewis about the use of “deer antler spray.” Check this out:
“That was a 2-year-old story that you want me to refresh … so I won’t even speak about it. Because I’ve been in this business 17 years, and nobody has ever got up with me every morning and trained with me. Every test I’ve ever took in the NFL — there’s never been a question of if I ever even thought about using anything. So to even entertain stupidity like that…”
Do you see an actual denial in there? Lewis almost danced around that topic as well as he dances during his pre-game entrance. Ray Lewis is the king of controlling the narrative of his career, and he did that again yesterday. “There has never been a question if I ever though about using anything.” Um…yes there have. We’re asking it now, homie.
He did later answer a direct question about his use of the spray by saying, “Nah, never.” Even still, Lewis left himself a buffer in case this comes to get him later. Lewis crafted what he actually said and what he didn’t say, just like he has his entire career when it comes to his “shady past.”
Remember how Todd Helton responded when Wayne Hagin tried to accuse him of steroid use back in the day? He immediately said it was not true and he even threatened to sue Hagin if he did retract the accusation:
“I am not going down without a fight if someone talks bad about me and lies about me. I don’t care if it was an accident or not. I am forever linked to it.”
The Toddfather also added this intense and kind-of-creepy follow-up about Hagin:
“I would like to extend a hunting trip to him deep in the woods somewhere.”
Look, the dude was pissed, alright? But make no mistake about it, he denied those accusations. He did not wait for permission or talk around the issue with references to “the process.” He was innocent and so he said he was innocent.
Why wait? Gio Gonzalez reminded us what an actual denial looks like.