Pete Rose offers Lance Armstrong advice, one cheater to another

Lance Armstrong talks about his use of performance-enhancing drugs in an interview Thursday with Oprah Winfrey.
(George Burns / Associated Press)

I’m thinking Lance Armstrong needs a reality show.

Maybe a wife, a couple kids, then just have some cameras follow him around as he attempts to lead a normal life, living strong and all that.

After all, if his confessional with Oprah doesn’t work out, what’s a guy with a recognizable face, a notoriously prickly demeanor and no apparent work skills to do?

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So far it looks like Armstrong is attempting to following the Pete Rose path to redemption -- the road the disgraced all-time Major League Baseball hits leader took when he was caught gambling on his sport and his own team as a manager. He was banned from baseball and from ever entering the Hall of Fame.

On Thursday, Rose reappeared in the limelight, this time on the “Today” show with Matt Lauer to promote his reality show on TLC. The only reason it’s noteworthy was his advice for Armstrong, from one disgraced athlete to another.

“First of all, [the fans] have to know you’re sincere,” Rose said. “They have to know you stepped forward and took responsibility…. Come forward as early as you possibly can.”

Well, that ship has sailed. Armstrong denied it for so long and so vehemently, he left a path of destroyed reputations in his wake.

But hey, now he’s sitting down with Oprah and confessing. That’s something, isn’t it?

“I hope it’s not too late,” Rose said.

It is.

Just as Rose confessed to gambling on the eve of the release of his autobiography, Armstrong is only confessing because he sees something in it for him. Namely, the possibility the Anti-Doping Agency will look favorably on him and lift its lifetime ban against him competing. His endorsements are gone and he’s facing several lawsuits. He needs to make some money, and competing in triathlons seems to be his only way to do that.

“My fans understand I know how I screwed up,” Rose told Lauer. “Once they figure that out, they’re willing to give you a second chance.”

I don’t see that in the cards for Armstrong.

Rose didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs, and the collateral damage of his deception didn’t reach nearly as far as the seven-time Tour de France champion’s.

Rose may still get back in the public’s good graces, but not with baseball’s. In Armstrong’s case, I don’t see his reputation ever recovering.

The truth may set you free, but not from consequences.


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