The Rodgers/Braun Buddy Test
Packers QB's comments hint at changing dynamic of their once-strong friendship.
One of Wisconsin's most famous sports friendships could very well be on the rocks.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers met the media Friday after his team's first training camp practice, and some of the first questions he answered were about Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. The two had become fast friends and restaurant business partners while ascending to the top of Wisconsin's sports landscape. And while allegations of performance enhancing drug use piled up around his baseball buddy since late 2011, Rodgers had been unwavering in defending Braun.
But Friday, Rodgers touched on the same themes of disbelief and betrayal that have swept over Brewers fans since Monday, when Braun accepted, without a fight, MLB's seasonlong suspension for violating the sport's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Silverstein was one of the many Packers reporters who detailed Rodgers' pull-no-punches response to the Braun situation.
"I was backing up a friend," Rodgers said. "He looked me in the eye on multiple occasions and repeatedly denied these allegations and said they were not true. So, it is disappointing, not only for myself as a friend, but for obviously Wisconsin sports fans, Brewer fans, really baseball fans. It doesn't feel great being lied to like that and I'm disappointed in the way it all went down."
Rodgers was noncommittal about whether he'll continue his partnership with Braun in their 8-twelve restaurant venture, saying "That's yet to be determined." Rodgers was equally noncommittal about continuing their friendship. From the Silverstein piece:
Asked if he still considered Braun a friend, Rodgers said: "I was disappointed in the way it went down. ... I trusted him. That's the thing that probably hurts the most."
Whether or not Braun and Rodgers are friends or business partners won't exactly have lasting reverberations on the overall Wisconsin sports scene. But the subplot is a stark example of the long road Braun faces while redeeming himself in the eyes of friends, teammates and fans who once had his back.