The Washington Times - February 8, 2009, 11:06AM

“Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon, and thank you for being here. This is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, so please bear with me. I called this press conference because I wanted to come clean and take full responsibility for my actions. Unfortunately, what you’ve heard about me is true; I did make the mistake of using steroids several years ago when I was with the Texas Rangers. In doing so, I cheated myself, my friends, my family, the fans, and all the great players who have ever played this game. I’d do anything in the world to undo this regrettable decision, but I can’t, and I’m sorry for letting all of you down.

“It’s hard to say exactly what made me do it. Part of it was having to watch other players I knew I was better than playing at my level because of performance-enhancing drugs - that just drove me nuts. Another factor was my contract. When you’re making twice as much as even the best players in the game, you feel a lot of pressure to be superhuman. I guess the pressure just got to me, and I made a really bad decision. And the fact that Major League Baseball was well aware players were using steroids and letting them get away with it, even celebrating their steroid-aided accomplishments … I mean, it might sound ridiculous now, but it almost seemed like it was okay - encouraged, even. Still, that’s no excuse. I could have been above all that, and I wasn’t.

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“You have to understand that I’ve felt badly about what I did since, well, pretty soon after I did it. One day it just hit me - man, I’ve cheapened everything I’ve worked my whole life for. And for what? A couple extra homers? I tried not to let it bother me, to pretend it wasn’t a big deal since others did it too, but who was I kidding? The worst was in 2007, when Barry Bonds hit his 756th homer, and people were talking about how I’d one day bring legitimacy back to the record. I knew that wasn’t true, that I wasn’t that guy, and I hated it. More recently, I’ve watched as some of the greatest players who ever stepped on a big league ballfield got called out for their steroid use. As it’s all unfolded, I’ve realized how much baseball’s history means to people. Steroid use has made it impossible for fans to put the accomplishments of a whole generation of players into proper perspective. I’m sorry I contributed to that.

“There’s nothing I can do about the past. What’s done is done, and while I regret using steroids more than you could ever know, I can either beat myself up over it for the rest of my life or I can move forward. I’m going to move forward. I’m going to learn from my mistake and do my best to redeem myself. I’m going to go to the ballpark every day and put on my uniform and take a deep breath and think about how blessed I am to be able to play this game for a living. And then I’m going to run out onto the field and do everything in my power to help the Yankees win. I know some of you will never forgive me. I know that every time my name is announced over the loudspeaker from now until the day I retire, people are going to boo and call me all kinds of terrible names. I know a lot of people who used to look up to me don’t anymore. I know I’ll never get into the Hall of Fame. What can I say? I understand. But I am going to do everything in my power to earn back your respect.

“In closing, my greatest hope is that some kind of good can come out of this. Obviously, I’m going to use the forum I have as a professional athlete to teach kids about the dangers of steroids. I’m sure there are plenty of kids out there watching this on TV saying ‘Wow, I’d hate to be in his shoes right now. I’m never touching that stuff.’ Well, good. Hopefully somebody else out there is coming to the realization that screwing up is one thing, but compounding it with lies only makes it a thousand times worse. I feel a whole lot better getting this off my chest and being able to move on than I would trying to hide from it or denying it for the rest of my life. And while people won’t be able to look up to me as someone who’s perfect and always does the right thing - because I’m not, and I don’t - maybe in time they’ll come to respect me for how I’m going to bounce back from all of this.

“Again, I’m sorry. I’m not going to take any questions, but hopefully I’ve addressed any you might have had. Thank you for coming. See you at spring training.”

Jay LeBlanc is an assistant news editor at The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected]