GREEN BAY, Wis. (CBS Tampa/AP) — It’s time for Aaron Rodgers to pony up.
Last year, Twitter user Todd Sutton asked the Green Bay Packers quarterback in a tweet if he truly believed that Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun really didn’t use performance enhancing drugs. The star baseball player had just had his name cleared on a technicality following a failed 2011 drug test, and Rodgers had posted a tweet in defense of Braun.
“MLB and cable sports tried to sully the reputation of an innocent man. Picked the wrong guy to mess with. Truth will set u free #exonerated” wrote Rodgers.
So what was Rodgers’ response when Sutton asked if he really meant it?
“Ya I’d put my salary next year on it. #ponyup #exonerated,” Rodgers replied.
Well now it appears Sutton should be several million dollars richer after Braun was suspended for the rest of the season Monday by Major League Baseball. Braun was tired to Florida clinic Biogenesis, which is accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs.
According to an April report from USA Today, Rodgers is expected to rake in $40 million this year.
Rodgers has yet to comment since Braun’s suspension, but Sutton tweeted Tuesday, “I seem to have picked up a few followers. Thanks for nearly making my phone explode yesterday.”
Braun originally dodged a 50-game penalty in 2012 when an arbitrator overturned his positive test for elevated testosterone because the urine sample had been improperly handled. That’s when Rodgers took to Twitter to defend the Brewers slugger.
“When its guilty until proven innocent, all u need are the facts. #howsthecrowmlb #exonerated,” he wrote.
A person familiar with the deal, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized, said 50 games of the penalty were connected to Biogenesis. The additional 15 games stemmed from Braun’s actions during the grievance that overturned his positive test from October 2011. The suspension will count as a first violation of the drug program, the person said.
Braun’s acceptance of the suspension marks a 180-degree turnaround from his defiant spring training news conference in Phoenix last year, after his 50-game ban was overturned.
“We won,” he said then, “because the truth is on my side. The truth is always relevant, and at the end of the day, the truth prevailed.”
The 29-year-old Braun was hitting .298 with nine homers and 38 RBIs this year, slowed by a thumb injury that limited him to one game between June 9 and Friday. He was at Miller Park before Monday’s game against San Diego and addressed the Brewers, then left without speaking to reporters. He did issue a statement, though, apologizing to fans and the organization.
“I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed,” Braun said. “I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”
By serving the entire penalty this year, Braun gains a slight monetary advantage. His salary increases to $10 million next year, when a 65-game suspension would cost him about $500,000 more.
“We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions,” Rob Manfred, MLB’s executive vice president for economics and league affairs, said in a statement. “We all agree that it is in the best interests of the game to resolve this matter. When Ryan returns, we look forward to him making positive contributions to Major League Baseball, both on and off the field.”
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