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Nearly two decades ago, tennis player Andre Agassi blurted three important words: Image is everything. Though the line was part of an advertisement slogan for Canon cameras, it has a completely different meaning to some of today's high-profile professional athletes.
Several are currently in the process of repairing their images, most notably the image-obsessed Alex Rodriguez. Ever since Sports Illustrated reported he tested positive for steroids in 2003, the Yankees third baseman has been facing the biggest crisis of his baseball career. He is scheduled to meet the press Tuesday when he reports to spring training. And unless he shows up with Madonna, A-Rod will be the main attraction amidst a circus-like atmosphere.
But he isn't the only famous jock looking to save face while regaining the public's faith. And so we ask: Which one of these athletes will be able to ride out the PR storm?
Rodriguez: A-Rod has already admitted that he took a "banned substance" in 2001-03. Other than that, he didn't offer much substance in his lengthy interview with ESPN's Peter Gammons. The New York media will ask him to provide more details, but he probably has already rehearsed his answers.
Michael Phelps: The 23-year-old Olympic swimmer, who won a record eight gold medals at the Summer Games, was photographed with a bong at a college party in November. Phelps has more things to worry about than being suspended three months by USA Swimming and dropped by Kellogg's. He has not been charged with marijuana possession, but he reportedly has hired an attorney.
Sean Avery: Assuming the Rangers claim him from the Stars, Avery will be skating on thin ice in the NHL after being suspended six games for making crude comments regarding his ex-girlfriend dating other hockey players. He returned to the ice Saturday night with the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack, a minor league affiliate for the Rangers, and got involved in a scuffle almost immediately. "I had a few comments," Avery said afterward. "But nothing that was too drastic or something the old Sean would say." Those anger-management sessions seem to have done some good.
Plaxico Burress: His career with the Giants may be over after agent Drew Rosenhaus reportedly sent an email to NFL teams gauging their interest in Burress. Teams will wait to see how he makes out with the felony gun possession, a charge that was the result of accidentally shooting himself in the leg at a Manhattan nightclub. He has a scheduled court date for March 31.
Roger Clemens: The Rocket's reputation may be damaged beyond repair. Clemens maintains he never took steroids, despite mounting evidence that suggests otherwise. He might be indicted for perjury and could face jail time. All because of his arrogance and/or stubbornness.