GREEN BAY, Wis. – Ryan Braun apparently has some work to do to repair his friendship with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Describing himself as shocked and disappointed, Rodgers said Friday after the Packers' first training camp practice that Braun "looked at me in the eye on multiple occasions and repeatedly denied the allegations" that the Milwaukee Brewers slugger was using performance-enhancing drugs.
Braun accepted a season-ending 65-game suspension this week after admitting to violating baseball's rules against using PEDs.
Rodgers felt duped by his buddy and business associate, a sentiment being expressed by many others in Wisconsin.
A Milwaukee restaurant is named for two of the state's most well-known athletes, and Rodgers last year defended his friend on Twitter, going so far as to betting his multimillion-dollar salary that Braun was clean.
"It's disappointing, not only for myself as a friend, but for obviously Wisconsin sports fans, Brewer fans, Major League Baseball fans," Rodgers said before a throng of media surrounding his locker. "It doesn't feel great being lied to like that, and I'm disappointed about the way it all went down."
Rodgers and Braun have spoken since the slugger's suspension. Asked if he considered themselves friends, Rodgers didn't answer directly but said in part, "I trusted him, and that's the thing that probably hurts the most."
The future of their business relationship – they're involved in a licensing agreement for the 8-twelve MVP Bar and Grill – was yet to be determined, Rodgers said.
With the benefit of hindsight, Rodgers plans to take a more measured approach next time if faced a similar situation in the future.
"People make mistakes. I definitely believe in forgiveness and moving forward," Rodgers said. "Obviously, [Braun] has a tough task in front of him moving forward with his career, on and off the field."
All the attention at the first practice was atypical even for Rodgers, a former Super Bowl and NFL MVP who leads one of most dangerous passing attacks in the league. He was smiling and laughing on the field Friday, running through drills like the rest of his teammates on an overcast, breezy morning.
In the locker room, however, the off-the-field questions didn't stop at Braun.
Earlier this week, former Packers receiver Greg Jennings – now with the archrival Minnesota Vikings – criticized his ex-quarterback. In an interview with the Star Tribune, Jennings questioned Rodgers' leadership and implied the quarterback had become bigger than the team.
Rodgers said he wasn't spending time or energy on Jennings' comments.
"To me, I'm concerned with the opinions of the guys in this locker room, and the guys we have here," Rodgers said. "It's exciting to be able to be one of the leaders of this football team, and I'm very confident in my style."