Among the consequences of slugger Ryan Braun admitting he lied about taking performance-enhancing drugs was a loss of trust, and some of it vanished in a very material sense. Braun lost about $3.3 million in salary from the Milwaukee Brewers because of his 65-game suspension from Major League Baseball related to Biogenesis, but his side income was affected as well. He lost business partnerships, even with good friends. Restaurants took his name off their establishments. Product endorsement deals dried up. Nobody wanted to be associated with someone who lied about cheating.
While it's still not like the old days when Braun was a walking billboard for Nike baseball cleats — and was paid handsomely to strut his stuff — he has resurfaced this spring with a small company called 3N2. Something to think about the next time Braun steps in with a full count.
Reporter Darren Rovell of ESPN says 3N2 has a tiny market share compared to that of Nike, Under Armour, Mizuno, Adidas and New Balance. And while they won't pay him like Nike did, they're putting their trust in Braun as a spokesperson when others would not.
3N2 president Marty Graham told ESPN.com that the company contacted Braun's representatives that day to talk about a possible deal. Things got more serious when Braun tried on the shoes, and he's been wearing them throughout spring training.
"We believe in Ryan," Graham said. "We've all made mistakes, and we're all human beings. Our country is about second chances."
Braun also is going to be paid to use Franklin batting gloves. The Natural II line, to be specific. (Natural — get it? As in the baseball movie, or as in free of PEDs?) Both companies say they believe Braun's attachment will be good for business because he'll play well. And because he'll play by the rules. If he does, the thought goes, people will forgive. Or at least forget.
Graham doesn't think there's any risk for his company in backing Braun.
"We're very honest," Graham said. "We're not Nike or Under Armour, who do cleats and products across a variety of categories. This is who we are. Once Ryan has the year we think he is going to have, much of the past will be water under the bridge."
It's true, even if it's not "right." Braun's Biogenesis exile is last season's news. He'll hear boos this season, and the next, and into the future, but they'll be harder to hear as time goes by. And the endorsement deals of today might not make the same kind of impact on his bank account, but there's always tomorrow. There's always another tomorrow.
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