Add Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez to crisis specialist Lanny Davis' sports client list, a who's who of the most publicly hated personas in athletics. Defiant in the face of a year-plus long suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs and attempting to destroy evidence, Rodriguez has burned almost all of his bridges — the league, his team, the fans, and the players association — and so he's turning to Davis, one of the few men still willing to defend him.
Rodriguez joins Davis's client list alongside other controversial figures. He took on Penn State administrators after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, and NFL owner Daniel Snyder amid his defying of growing demands that he change the name of the Washington Redskins. Davis has made a name for himself defending scandalous politicians, dictators, and whatever other figure happens to be bearing the brunt of public hatred. Now, though, his attention appears to be firmly on sports figures.
His advice remains as it always has been: speak your side, and avoid no-commenting. That's what started off his career as "Clinton’s media snake charmer," as The Washington Post explained on Tuesday in a long profile, when Davis defended the former president from criticism before and after the Monica Lewinsky scandal. "So Davis became a spin doctor for hire, the man with a plan in a jam," the Post writes, and documents his work with dictators of Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast.
Davis has continued that speak-out technique with his sports figures, such as his work defending the Redskins team name. "My advice to Dan Snyder was simple: Speak," he told the Post. "Let people know what you think. His letter was the ultimate expression of that." Davis gave his own defense of the team name, too, and lambasted President Obama for speaking on the subject.
He attempted to employ similar tactics with Rodriguez, who he has been advising for the past six weeks, as Rodriguez and his legal team prepared to criticize MLB in a news conference on Monday. However, MLB presented an order to stop the talk, as arbitration over his 211-game suspension remains under way. Rodriguez was suspended in August for allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs, lying to baseball executives, and attempting to destroy incriminating evidence.
It's the American way that everyone, criminals and hated sports figures alike, deserves a proper defense. But, as Politico's Jason Zengerle tweets, "Seems like the real story about Lanny Davis at this point is how much of a rube you have to be to hire him."
(Photo of Alex Rodriguez: AP)