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Jonathan Papelbon sports ‘Obama Can’t Ban These Guns’ shirt

(Photo by Chelsea Janes/The Washington Post)

On Friday, Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon sat at a folding table in Viera, Fla. and apologized to fans, coaches and “everyone included” for choking Bryce Harper in the dugout on Fan Appreciation Day last September.

“I was in the wrong,” said Papelbon, who had already apologized to Harper and his teammates.

Jonathan Papelbon admits he was in the wrong

Papelbon wore a Nationals T-shirt with the words “Train to Reign” as he issued his apology and answered questions. According to Thomas Boswell, who writes that the Nationals’ decision to keep Papelbon is “going to be one of the best or worst ideas a contending team has made in years,” Papelbon originally planned to address the media in a shirt bearing a slightly different message.

[On Saturday], he walked the Nats’ complex in a cut-off muscle T-shirt with arrows pointing to big biceps covered in jagged tattoos. The shirt said: “Obama Can’t Ban These Guns.” Pap wanted to wear that shirt to the “apology press conference,” but he was talked out of it.

Update: In his Monday online chat, Boswell said he doubts that Papelbon intended to wear the shirt.

In my column, I mentioned that Papelbon had on his “Obama Can’t Ban This Guns” T-shirt before his apology press conference but changed to “Train to Reign.” There was some lighthearted talk at the time, just teasing. I doubt he ever intended to wear it to the press conference. Anyway, it didn’t happen. Talk about a non-issue. It’s more to the point, to me, that when you play in D.C. maybe you develop the awareness to realize that politics is highly-charged in the town, so it’s smart to let everybody believe what they believe and not cross the partisanship line too much or too often. Unless you want to take a specific stand on a serious issue and make it in depth.

Papelbon, who loves to go duck hunting, has shared his thoughts about the president’s efforts on gun control before.

“Today’s day and age has gotten so crazy, everything” Papelbon told CSN Philadelphia the day after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. “All this stuff going on. Shoot man, Obama wants to take our guns from us and everything, and you’ve got this kind of stuff going on, it’s just a little bit insane for me, man. I’m not sure how to take it.”

If you’re interested, there are several variations of Papelbon’s shirt available here. I’m going to choose to believe he sent this shirt to Harper as part of his apology during the offseason.