C.J. Nitkowski pitched for several major league teams, including the New York Yankees, from 1995-05. He played in Japan this year and writes periodically for The Associated Press. He trained for seven years with Brian McNamee, the strength coach who implicated Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte in the Mitchell Report.
For The Associated Press
By C.J. NITKOWSKI
Following the release of the Mitchell Report, the name of Brian McNamee was thrust upon the baseball world. Already known in some of baseball's smaller circles, Mac has now become synonymous with Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and steroids.
Let me share who this trainer really is.
I've known Mac for over 10 years and I have been a client of his since 2001. It pains me to see what he was forced to do, and you can be assured it has been awful for him.
Mac is one of the best in his field and he takes his job seriously. He is well educated in exercise science with multiple degrees and is even more dedicated to his clients. This is testimony he never wanted to give. Only when it appeared that jail time was imminent and when he was under immense pressure did he give federal investigators and Senator Mitchell the information they were looking for.
A reckless conclusion would be that Mac is a ``rat.'' For those who believe such a thing, I'd recommend less television. This is real life, not ``The Sopranos,'' and with a family Mac was left with no other alternative. There are a lot of people I love in my life, but none more than my family. There isn't a friend or teammate that I would desert my family for and go to jail.
An inaccurate assumption that has bothered me is that Mac pushes and supplies steroids. In my seven years of training with him, Mac never suggested or even hinted that I might want to consider taking steroids or HGH, even when I suggested it. He believed strongly in his program and so do I.
During my first year of training with Mac, I was seriously considering getting on the juice. I was coming off a bad year and I was looking for ways to make improvements. Getting on Mac's strength and conditioning program was part of the equation. I thought maybe the steroid Winstrol would be another. I consulted Mac about it.
He answered all my questions and clarified things I had heard in the clubhouse from other guys that I knew were taking it. It was 2001, quite possibly the height of the Steroid Era.
At no time did he ever tell me it was a good idea. Because he cares about his clients, Mac wouldn't let them do something like steroids without knowing what they were getting into. What they were and how to take him is information someone with his level of expertise would have.
His preference would be that guys just take the over-the-counter supplements we use and stay on his program. But Mac is not dumb. He knows that once an athlete has decided to take a performance-enhancing drug, there is no changing his mind. His concern was that if a client chose to take them, he would take them the right way, reducing the risks that are associated with steroid abuse and misuse.
In the end, I decided against it. Not because of Major League Baseball and not because of health risks. I chose not to use steroids because I was concerned with the potential legal trouble I could get into possessing or buying them.
Had I taken them, most certainly my name would have been in the Mitchell Report and I would have had to have an uncomfortable conversation with my two children. Lucky for me, I didn't have a trainer who encouraged me to take them. That is not who Brian McNamee is, even when I, as his client, suggested it might be a good idea.
Is he a saint and innocent in all of this? No. But it would be wrong to assume that the man that trained two of the best pitchers of my generation is liar or a steroid pusher.
Big boys make big boy decisions, and if we get caught we must stand up and face the consequences. As disappointing as it is to hear, I don't doubt what he was forced to say is true.
I don't have proof and I can't corroborate his testimony. Mac had no motivation to lie. What matters to me is that my trainer is not misunderstood for who he really is. He is dedicated to his profession and to his clients, and having to do this was the last thing he ever wanted to do.

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