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Clemens' obsession with his image seriously threatens his liberty

Aug 20, 2010, 1:01 PM EDT

Earlier this year, the lawyers representing Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger advised him to put his image behind his liberty, advising him to say nothing about an allegation of rape lodged against him in Georgia.  Though Roethlisberger’s reputation took the kind of a beating not seen since Tex Cobb absorbed 15 rounds of jabs, roundhouses, and uppercuts from Larry Holmes, the strategy worked.  Roethlisberger ultimately faced no charges, and through the passage of time his Pittsburgh posture has improved a click or two above pariah.

In 2008, former pitcher Roger Clemens would have been wise to seek — and to heed — similar advice.  After word emerged that former trainer Brian McNamee told former U.S. Senator George Mitchell that McNamee had injected Clemens with steroids and hGH on multiple occasions, Clemens could have, and in hindsight should have, kept his head low and his mouth shut.  If compelled to speak on the matter, Clemens should have played the patent-pending “I’m not here to talk about the past” card, and he should have thanked Mark McGwire for blazing that particular path.

Cognizant of the P.R. hit men like McGwire took by taking the careful approach, the Angus-fed Texas boy opted instead to hurl clumps of bovine byproduct at Brian McNamee.  Not only did Clemens publicly call McNamee a liar, which eventually would get Clemens sued, but Clemens also sued McNamee for defamation.  And lawyer Rusty Hardin either recommended the approach or agreed to go along with it, presumably after his fees were paid in advance.

Though no lawyer possesses a crystal ball (and any that ever did surely closed up shop and headed to Vegas), Hardin should have had the experience and the wisdom to be able to lay out for Clemens the worst-case scenario resulting from a decision to sue McNamee.  Hardin should have told Clemens that the lawsuit easily could push the entire controversy to a higher level of national attention, and that it could very well culminate in Clemens receiving an invitation to testify before Congress.  And Hardin should have told Clemens that, once Congress invites him to testify, the options become fairly simple:  show up and risk an eventual perjury prosecution or decline the invitation and accept the fact that everyone will conclude that McNamee was telling the truth.

Once Hardin and Clemens opted to file suit, the die had been cast into the deep end of the Rubicon.  And the same tenacity that made Clemens a great pitcher meant that he would stick to the strategy for persuading the public that he didn’t take steroids, regardless of whether he did.

Two years later, Clemens’ lawsuit has failed, due in large part to the conclusion that McNamee’s statements to Mitchell, who was investigating steroid use in baseball with the cooperation of federal officials, created immunity from civil liability.  In turn, McNamee’s lawsuit against Clemens remains viable.  Most importantly, Clemens now faces the very real possibility of going to jail because he used Congress as a battlefield in his war against the man who claimed that Clemens cheated.
So, basically, Clemens disregarded his freedom in the hopes of cleaning up his image.  

And he’s well on his way to having neither.

  1. Old Gator - Aug 20, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    Good for Roethlisberger. Even so, I think it would be wise if professional athletes began videotaping all of their sexual peccadilloes and keeping them on file until the statute of limitations expired. True, half of them would wind up on YouTube where their wives could see them, in that mysterious way that private tapes have of finding their way onto the net, but at least all these bogus extortionate rape allegations would stop.

  2. El Bravo - Aug 20, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    Roethlisberger is a scumbag. Let’s not forget that either. Rapist or not, and probably not, he is a dirty mother trucker.

  3. Mike Gianella - Aug 20, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    Roethlisberger’s posture has improved? No way. Where it seemed like people were willing to give him a pass after the first accusation, there is going to be a cloud around him – at least in the short-term – after this second story. Rape or no, the whole story made him look pretty stupid and immature.

  4. Son of Shane Mack - Aug 20, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    Honestly, a meat-head like Clemens deserves whatever he gets.
    He had enough talent to pitch well for a long time w/o steroids. Basically, a HOF pitcher even without the juice. Yet, since he’s they way he is, he has to take it to be the “best he can be” – so to speak.
    So, basically, he’s the same moron that throws broken bats at Piazza. Whatever he’s got coming, he deserves.
    As far as Roethlisberger, I always thought he was a tool and a scumbag. I remember when all my friends didn’t understand why I couldn’t stand him back as a rookie. “He seems like such a nice guy” they said. He just rubbed me the wrong way. Sadly, I was way more right than I had any right to be.

  5. Kiwicricket - Aug 20, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    Probably the only thing Ben learnt at university though. Don’t be so tough on the guy

  6. CJ - Aug 20, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    Who let Florio over here? I know you guys are fellow lawyers turned sport “DJ’s”, but keep him over at PFT where he belongs. As ignorant as he is regarding the game of baseball, he should have a lifetime ban from this site. Besides, you’d be better off that way.

  7. daffx4 - Aug 20, 2010 at 2:45 PM


  8. jonesy1124 - Aug 20, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    Agreed, Clemens should have just admitted that he juiced. They all juiced and guess what, it’s happend since the beginning of time, athletes will do whatever they can to get an edge. I for one have no clue why congress cares so much. I couldn’t care less about who’s juicing. People say it’s ruined the game, but what about with the amphedimines and cocaine abuse of the 70’s and 80’s and probably before that as well??? They do it in football, probably basketball too. As long as they’re not killing someone does it really matter????? It’s entertainment. What would be more entertaining than a 6’8 300lbs baseball player with a 34 inch waist hitting homers????

  9. Spokes - Aug 20, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    Isn’t this kind of repeat of Craig’s “Clemens brought this on himself” post from yesterday? Lame cameo.

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