Alex Rodriguez is opening up about the scandal that once haunted his professional baseball career.
While playing for the New York Yankees in 2014, the athlete was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs and violating the MLB's anti-doping rules. Now, in an interview with The New York Times, Rodriguez explains why he's no longer playing the victim.
"When the suspension first happened, I was pissed off at everyone. I was blaming everyone. It wasn't until I got deeper into it that I said, 'No, it's not their fault. It's your fault,'" he admits. "I tried to build a certain image while I was playing, and that plan failed miserably. [Now] I have more clarity."
"What I’ve learned [about dealing with the press] is that a lot of it was self-inflicted. I represented myself the wrong way," he continues. "Coming out of the suspension, I wanted to be honest, be accurate and be fair with the media -- and mix in levity. I could not wait to make fun of myself. Doing that made everybody relax about me. I'd wake up the next morning thinking I was going to get crushed by them for a mistake I'd made. But then I'd see that they'd barely be talking about my [expletive] up because I'd beat them to the punch. I still think that, for the most part, I had a good relationship with the media, but it became excellent post-suspension."
Looking back on that time of his life, where some fans depicted him as a villain, he says he would have "booed" himself, too.
"I felt that being the tough guy who had all the answers and being robotic was the right thing to do," he says. "I was wrong, and now I think it's OK if I say, 'I don't know the answer.'"
Coming out of the controversy in a positive way, Rodriguez says he thinks it started with "taking full responsibility for my missteps."
"I paid a huge price: the longest suspension in the history of M.L.B. for P.E.D. use. And while I was away, I took that year to reflect," he explains. "I wanted to understand why I kept shooting myself in the foot. I wish it was in the foot, actually."
"I'm still a work in progress," he confesses, "but one thing I learned was that I was good enough. I did not need to overreach. And when I turned the lens inward, I found this incredible amount of gratitude and appreciation and respect for others and myself in a way that perhaps was not there in the past. With that attitude, I was able to enjoy life better. It made me a nicer person to be around; it made me a better father."
Later in the interview, A-Rod also gets candid about his recent engagement to Jennifer Lopez, and the lessons she's taught him about being a public figure.
"I've never met anyone who's more honest," he explains. "She's so authentic and genuine. It was strange to see someone of such magnitude be so normal, be such a great mother and partner and friend. How can you be like this and then go perform in front of 80,000 people? But that's her superpower."
Hear more on the newly engaged couple in the video below.