LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When former New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez appears in a snack food commercial during next month’s Super Bowl, it will mark the latest step in his remarkable return to the public’s good graces following his 2014 suspension for steroid use.
Rodriguez, known as A-Rod, will appear in an ad for Planters alongside the company’s iconic Mr Peanut in a playful spot few would have predicted he could pull off when the polarizing MLB player retired in 2016.
But Rodriguez, 43, has made impressive strides in rehabilitating his image since then, owning up to his drug use, raising money for charities and proving himself to be an insightful and enthusiastic baseball broadcaster.
He told Reuters in an interview that his season-long suspension in 2014 gave him the chance to reevaluate himself.
“Early on I was a little bit robotic and took myself a bit too seriously,” he said.
“I think post suspension I brought in more levity and humor. I decided to just have fun and enjoy it all.”
His image has also been boosted by his relationship with pop star and actress Jennifer Lopez. They have been dating since 2017.
“He’s come around almost 100 percent,” said Bob Dorfman, sports marketing expert at Baker Street Advertising.
“He started out as a super hero player and then went through the steroids thing and people thought he was kind of nuts,” he said.
“But he hasn’t misbehaved at all and everyone seems to like the guy these days,” he said.
“It shows a level of respectability and talent that he is still able to land a commercial in one of the most popular sports telecasts in the world.”
While Rodriguez might be a hit with TV audiences and tabloid magazines, it remains to be seen whether he will ever achieve his goal of getting into the Hall of Fame.
He will be eligible for the ballot in 2022.
Rodriguez’s career numbers are staggering and if it were not for the doping violation he would have no trouble getting into Cooperstown.
In his 22-year career he hit 696 home runs and ranks only behind Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth on the league’s all-time home run list.
His 25 grand slams are the most of any player in history and his 3,115 career hits rank 20th.
“The Hall of Fame would mean the world to me,” he said.
“Of course I wish I could get in but I also understand the issues that I have created for myself.”
Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Ken Ferris