Monday, January 07, 2008

Is Roger Clemens telling the truth?

We live in a society where the innocent are guilty until they are proven innocent. How perverse is that? When did America become a country where one of the basic tenants of its Justice system, the basic belief that you are innocent until you are proven guilty has been turned around completely? Since the release of the Mitchell Report three weeks ago, nearly everyone (present company embarrassingly included) believed Brian McNamee was telling the truth and indeed Clemens had used steroids and Human Growth Hormones.

What, if anything has changed since Clemens appeared on 60 Minutes Sunday night? Brian McNamee continues to speak through his lawyers. Sunday night Roger Clemens spoke directly to anyone who cared to hear his side of the story. Monday afternoon Clemens will hold a media conference where he’ll again address the unsubstantiated charges leveled at him in the Mitchell Report. One issue became perfectly clear Sunday evening – the choice is clear; either Roger Clemens is telling the truth or Brian McNamee is telling the truth.

A transcript from Clemens appearance on 60 Minutes makes that issue clear.

"He gave very specific examples of times he says that he injected you with steroids. During the '98 season, you were pitching for the Blue Jays. McNamee was their strength and conditioning coach. From the Mitchell Report, quote: 'Clemens approached McNamee, and for the first time, brought up the subject of using steroids. Clemens said that he was not able to inject himself and he asked for McNamee's help. McNamee injected Clemens approximately four times in the buttocks over a several week period, with needles that Clemens provided. Each incident took place in Clemens' apartment in the Sky Dome,'" veteran investigative journalist Mike Wallace asked Clemens.

"Never happened," Clemens says. "Never happened. And if I have these needles and these steroids and all these drugs, where did I get 'em? Where is the person out there gave 'em to me? Please, please come forward."

"Mitchell Report, quote: 'According to McNamee, from the time McNamee injected Clemens with Winstrol, a steroid, through the end of the '98 season, Clemens performance showed remarkable improvement. Clemens told McNamee that the steroids, quote, had a pretty good effect on him. McNamee said Clemens was also training harder and dieting better during this time,'" Wallace then asked Clemens.

"Never. I trained hard my entire career. It just didn’t happen," Clemens says.

Brian McNamee's lawyer told ESPN’s T.J. Quinn late Sunday evening he saw a "disingenuous and desperate" Roger Clemens on "60 Minutes" Sunday night, despite the Rocket's fervent denials.

"I thought it was an impassioned denial," attorney Earl Ward said, "but it's not true."

Ward said he had not spoken to McNamee all day, not even to ask him about a Newsday report that said McNamee and Clemens had an "emotional" one-hour telephone conversation.

"It was news to me," he said. McNamee did not return a call to his mobile phone last night.

Ward said he was disappointed that Mike Wallace did not press Clemens further on how he could not have known that his close friend Andy Pettitte used human growth hormone or that McNamee had been dealing steroids and HGH while working for Clemens.

"I just didn't think it was a very hard-hitting interview," Ward said.

Ward also said that Clemens' two-step on the question of whether he would submit to a lie-detector test was damning to the seven-time Cy Young winner.

As for whether McNamee will pursue a slander or libel suit against Clemens, Ward said he, attorney Robert Emery and McNamee would wait until Clemens' expected appearance before Congress on Jan. 16, when he would testify under oath, to make their decision.

"He certainly didn't come out and call him a liar," Ward said. "He didn't use those words. I think he was careful."

Funny how much of a differenc a day can make in how McNamee’s legal team is now looking at the real possibility Clemens may be heading to Capital Hill to tell his side of the story. The McNamee camp Richard Emery, the founding partner of Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff & Abady, and Earl Ward also spoke with The New York Daily News before Sunday’s night’s telecast.

The Daily News’ Christian Red and Teri Thompson asked Emery and Ward – what was the impact of their client’s suggestion of filing a defamation suit against Clemens and if it would be impacted by Friday’s news that Clemens and McNamee have been asked to appear before Congress to address the charges Clemens had used steroids and HGH.

“It would be precipitous to begin any defamation claim prior to the congressional hearings.

“If Roger takes the Fifth, that's going to be a very interesting development. If he takes the Fifth, in my view, he's pretty much admitting to the public at large - I mean, I respect his constitutional rights - that Brian is telling the truth. And if (Clemens) acknowledges that, there's probably no real reason for a defamation claim. If he gets up there and speaks to Congress consistent with the position he's taken so far, then that's going to add substantially to Brian's damages.

“And we would forge ahead with vigor.”

The good news in the never-ending search for the truth when it comes to Clemens and next week’s Congressional hearings – Wallace raised the issue Sunday night during Clemens 60 Minutes appearance.

"If you were to testify before the Congress under oath, would you tell 'em exactly what you told me today?" Wallace asked Clemens.

"And even probably more about the Vioxx question," Clemens says. ("I was eating Vioxx like it was Skittles. And now these people who are supposedly regulating it tell me it’s bad for my heart," Clemens says. "I don't know what the future holds because of the medicine that I've eatin', but I trusted that it was not harmful. And I didn't wanna put anything in my body that was harmful.")

Clemens may appear as requested at a congressional hearing in ten days. His challenge is getting people to believe him. "I don’t know if I can defend myself, I think people, a lot of people, have already made their decisions," he says.

In reviewing Clemens’ 60 Minutes interview, at no time does Clemens call McNamee a liar and the issue as to whether Roger Clemens “defamed” Brian McNamee’s character may be open to interpretation, but while not actually suggesting McNamee had lied –Clemens made it clear: whatever McNamee told George Mitchell wasn’t true. Clemens may not have called McNamee a liar but as the saying goes – “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck; I would call it a duck.”

Clearly Clemens was on the offensive throughout his appearance on 60 Minutes – not only suggesting he was telling the truth that he had never used steroids or Human Growth Hormones, but somehow what has been lost in the story that has been told since the release of the Mitchell Report – the implication Roger Clemens maybe guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs.

"I'm angry that that what I've done for the game of baseball and the personal, in my private life, what I've done, that I don't get the benefit of the doubt," Clemens says. "The stuff that's being said, it's ridiculous."

"It's hogwash for people to even assume this," Clemens says.

"Twenty-four, twenty-five years. You'd think I'd get an inch of respect. An inch," he adds. "How can you prove your innocence?"

The final question Wallace asked Clemens -- "After listening to you in this interview, do you think people are gonna believe you? Believe that you, Roger Clemens never took steroids?" Wallace asks.

"I think the people that know me believe me and understand what I’m about. The people that are out there that have been saying the things that they’ve been sayin’, I don’t know if I’ll ever swing their opinion," Clemens says. "These accusations are not gonna change me as a person. I'll do everything I can to prove 'em wrong. And I still don't know if that's good enough."

In the days that followed the release of the Mitchell Report Roger Clemens was called a lot of things – more often than not, the white Barry Bonds. At the same time many media pundits believed Clemens had tossed his legacy out the door and his chances of ever being enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame had ended with the release of the Mitchell Report. Somewhere in the release of the Mitchell Report – a real sense of justice, a real sense of what’s right or wrong has been completely lost.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom. Sources cited and used in this Insider Report: and The New York Daily News

Labels: , , , , , ,