If you're a beloved star athlete who has just been outed as a growth hormone-slamming cheat, you have essentially two choices: Either fess up, apologize, and ask for forgiveness; or keep your trap shut, ignore the growing public outrage, lie and deny, and punch walls while shooting yourself up with more steroids and kicking adorable puppies.
Option one is what Andy Pettitte chose. Option two is what the public (or is it just me?) imagines Roger Clemens chose. The latter is the superior pitcher, but when the New York Yankee teammates were both named in the Mitchell Report, the former came out with far superior PR.
Two days after the report's release, Pettitte admitted he had used HGH to recover from an injury earlier in his career. He called it "an error in judgment" and apologized.
Clemens, on the other hand, angrily denied the accusations, through a third party, of course. "I plan to publicly answer all of those questions at the appropriate time in the appropriate way," Clemens said in a statement issued through his agent. Based on that alone, one must wonder what constitutes "appropriate" to the Rocket.
What Clemens failed to realize - and what Pettitte grasped so quickly - is that the entire scandal is unfolding not in a court of law, but in the court of public opinion.
One man realized that the game was up as soon as Mitchell announced his name, and confessed his sins in return for absolution. The other saw that the report came down to "his word versus mine" and decided to deny forever, on the grounds that nobody could "prove" it.
They're both cheaters, but Pettitte can be forgiven.
3. On the right track