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Pete Rose on Lance Armstrong's confession: 'I hope it's not too late'

There are few athletes who can understand what Lance Armstrong may be going through these days. Pete Rose is one of them. The legendary baseball player and manager has been banned from both baseball and the Baseball Hall of Fame since the early 1990s, after admitting to betting on baseball and remains a contentious figure in the sport.

And the best thing Armstrong can do, Rose told TODAY's Matt Lauer Thursday, is to admit to what he's done. "I waited too long," Rose said. "For anybody that has any kind of problem like that, come forward as quickly as you possibly can. Because it gets that load off your shoulders and it gets you back to recovery with the fans."

Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which the cyclist reportedly discusses his doping violations, is set to air on the OWN network Thursday and Friday.

Fans, continued Rose, are often willing to give their heroes a second chance -- providing they feel they're hearing the truth. "They have to know you're sincere, and they have to know you stepped forward and took responsibility," he said. "My fans understand that now I know how I screwed up. Once they figure that out, they're willing to give you a second chance."

And, he added, there should have been red flags sent up for some time regarding Armstrong. "In baseball, there's a tip-off when guys are doing illegal things," he said. "You don't dominate any sport after you're 40 years old. None of us. ... He's a great athlete, I guess. I never met Lance, but I'm glad he's coming forward. I hope it's not too late."

But the real reason Rose came forward himself Thursday morning was to discuss his new TLC series, "Hits and Mrs." His fiancee, model Kiana Kim, joined him on the couch, and explained why they decided to take on a reality show. (Kim's two children are also featured on the show.)

"It gave me an opportunity to show who I am, not only as a model and Pete Rose's fiancee," said Kim. "My main important job is being a mother. It was very important to show people that."

Rose's reason, however, seems to imply that the sting of ignominy lingers long after that key confession: "I wanted to show a different side of me," said Rose, 71. "Because I think most people think I'm going to knock them down, because they saw me knocking second basemen down and knocking catchers down ... and I'm really not like that any more."

"Hits and Mrs." airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on TLC.

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