Alex Rodriguez opens up about doping scandal and what he's learned from Jennifer Lopez

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."

Alex Rodriguez with the New York Yankees in 2014
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

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."

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Jennifer Lopez with Alex Rodriguez and their kids
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Jennifer Lopez with Alex Rodriguez and their kids
As the sun sets on 2018, from our family to yours ... #HappyNewYear everyone! 🎊🍾🎉
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 30: Alex Rodriguez, Planet Hollywood headliner Jennifer Lopez and family on the red carpet following the finale performance of Lopez's record-breaking residency, 'JENNIFER LOPEZ: ALL I HAVE' on September 30, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment)
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: Singer Jennifer Lopez and daughter Emme and Alex Rodriguez and Maximilian Muniz are see outside ABC Kitchen on September 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
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NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 20: Jennifer Lopez, with daughter Emme, and Alex Rodriguez inside the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
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Macha 13, I can’t believe it’s been two years. Only 730 days, which have flown by, but it feels like we have been together forever. We are meant to be, and how much you mean to me cannot be put into words. . From baseball games, to traveling across the world to shows in Vegas. We have done it all together and every moment with you is cherished. Where this road will take us next is unknown but there is no one else I would rather have by my side. The journey is just beginning and I am excited for what’s ahead. . Macha, your hard work is unmatched. Your relentless drive and determination push me to be a better man each and every day. . Like you there is none other. Words will never do justice to what the last two years have meant to me. Thank you for always being you, for your unwavering support and unconditional love.❤️ . Te amo mucho, Lola. . - Macho 13 @jlo
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About last night... Perfect way to start the year... Love that they still wanna fall asleep in Mama’s arms ♥️♥️🙏🏼
When we were kids, birthdays were exciting because it was all about the gifts we would be getting. A new bat, dance shoes, maybe a new CD (yes I’m old!). I see firsthand how that’s changed for Jennifer, and how she’s found joy in sharing with others. For someone who has been about giving everything she has 365 days a year—to our children, our families, the world—I hope today, we can give you all the happiness you deserve. I love you mucho Macha 13. ❤️
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Today has an entirely different meaning to me than I did when I first became a father to Tashi and then my Ella Bella. It’s an incredible responsibility, and one I have always treasured. But as I grow older and proudly watch them doing the same, not only are my kids my pride and joy and number one priority - now they also motivate me. Every day, Tashi and Ella make me a better dad and a better person. Being a father is the greatest job in the world, more than any career I could have dreamed of as a kid. To all the fathers out there, never stop trying to be the best. I don’t. #HappyFathersDay
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