(NEW YORK – July 30, 2013) – With Alex Rodriguez facing a potential lengthy suspension by Major League Baseball for allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs from a Biogenesis “anti-aging” clinic, senior writer S.L. Price takes a look at the painful and ugly last days of A-Rod in this week’s Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Wednesday. Rodriguez, who spoke to Price last week while rehabbing with the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, makes his seventh SI cover appearance. The last time he appeared on a cover was on February 16, 2009, when SI revealed that Rodriguez had tested positive for steroids in 2003. Price writes on SI.com about his experience interviewing Rodriguez here.
While Rodriguez refused to specifically address the Biogenesis case, he did say he was concerned by the “noise,” since he wants to be a role model. “Look, it’s concerning,” Rodriguez said. “I have two daughters at home, and I’m sensitive to that, and above all, I want to be a role model, continue to be a role model—especially to my girls. So all the noise sometimes gets on my nerves, but that’s it. I can’t let it get any further than that. I have a job to do.” (PAGE 58)
Price recalls in the story how scouts once saw A-Rod as the best prospect ever and how coaches praised him as a tireless worker and learner with a high baseball IQ. “When this came out, I said, ‘You got to be kidding me,’” says Rich Hofman, Rodriguez’s baseball coach at Westminster Christian in Fort Lauderdale, of the Biogenesis story. “I’ve heard of dumb guys doing this but not a guy of Alex’s nature. He’s one of the more intelligent people in the game.” (PAGE 62) Jerry Narron, Rodriguez’s manager in Texas for two years, says nobody worked harder. “He came to the park every day,” Narron says, “like he was the 25th guy trying to make the ball club.” (PAGE 62)
Price also wonders how a smart person could make so many dumb mistakes beyond using steroids, such as last week, when Rodriguez tried to embarrass the Yankees into activating him despite being diagnosed with a quad strain by the Yankees’ team doctor. “Alex is a player for us: We treat him like we do every other player to make sure he’s healthy,” Yankees President Randy Levine says. “He and Derek Jeter have the exact same injury, happened around the exact same time—and he’s being treated just like Derek Jeter is.” (PAGE 62)
When asked why he even bothered to rehab with a suspension looming and a team that seems to not want him back, Rodriguez said, “It’s who I am, right? My father was a baseball player. When I was in my mom’s belly, I just heard baseball, had Mets and Yankees games on, living in New York. That’s in my blood. It’s my DNA. That’s who I am. That’s what God gave me: my talents, my skills. And I want to simplify it in my life. I’m going back to being just a baseball player.” (PAGE 56)
Despite a tarnished legacy, Rodriguez somehow still remains hopeful for a happy ending to his story. “I’m not giving up,” Rodriguez said. “I have tremendous faith, and hopefully there’s a couple more chapters to this book. And hopefully there’s a happy ending somewhere. I have faith.” (PAGE 57)
Johnny Manziel featured on regional cover of this week’s SI
(NEW YORK – July 31, 2013) – A year ago, Johnny Manziel was simply trying to win the starting quarterback job at Texas A&M. After a historic Heisman Trophy season, he is now learning that being Johnny Football is a 24/7 gig with many perks and a few pitfalls too. In this week’s Sports Illustrated, on newsstands now, Manziel discusses his image, his mistakes, his struggles with fame, his future and more. Manziel, who sat down with senior writer Andy Staples for an exclusive interview last week at his parents’ house in Bryan, Texas, appears on a regional cover of this week’s SI. Staples describes on SI.com about his experience tracking down Manziel here.
“I probably rubbed people the wrong way in some cases,” Manziel says, “but at the end of the day, people are mad at me and people are upset at me because I’m doing everything they want to do.” (PAGES 28–30) People were upset last month when Manziel tweeted about his desire to leave College Station after getting a parking ticket, and while he takes full responsibility for his dismissal from the Manning Passing Academy in July, he remains shocked by the response. “I oversleep at the Manning camp, and there’s a weeklong special,” Manziel says. (PAGE 31)
“I’m adapting. I’m learning. I’m trying to learn from these mistakes,” he says. “But I’m not going to change who I am because the media wants me to be this, this or this. I’m not going to do that. . . . You love me when I’m running around being dangerous and a loose cannon,” Manziel says. “What makes me special on the field is what people don’t like off the field. I’m still learning how to put that into perspective.” (PAGE 32)
Manziel says he and his family are still struggling to adapt to his fame. “That probably is what’s getting us in trouble—wanting to be normal,” Manziel says. “We want to be just like we’ve always been, where none of this is a big deal.” (PAGE 30) When he won the Heisman, he had no idea how much his life would change. “I never knew what that trophy would do,” Manziel says. “I never knew the power of it.” (PAGE 31) To help cope with his newfound fame, Manziel asked his coach, Kevin Sumlin, for help. Sumlin set him up this past February with a therapist to work on dealing with stress and on how to say no to autograph and photo requests.
Will Manziel say no to the NFL draft after this season? His own mother, Michelle, doesn’t see how he can stay in school. “It’s sad that the system doesn’t allow it,” she says. “We can’t go through this another year. We would all be in the loony bin.” Johnny says he could handle another year. “There’s so much that factors in,” Manziel says. “I don’t want to be a guy who has a first-round grade and come out and go into the second round. That’s the difference between $12 million and $4 million or $5 million. That’s still a lot of money, obviously, but not when you have two full years left on the table.” (PAGE 32)
Along the way, Manziel has crossed off many items on his bucket list, such as rubbing elbows with stars like Drake and LeBron James. “When we look back 20, 30 years down the road, we’re going to sit there and be like, We pretty much hung out with the f—–’ Beatles,” Manziel says. “We pretty much did everything we wanted to do.” (PAGE 32) After experiencing so much on and off the field, what does he dream of now? “Being the best player to ever play college football,” says Manziel. (PAGE 32)