Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Mitchell, McNamee Hug It Out

Sports Illustrated's best newsbreaker, Jon Heyman, offers the exclusive with Brian McNamee. In it, McNamee speaks of his sorrow for burying his client and idol, Roger Clemens. He also explains Senator Mitchell embraced the troubled trainer after confirming testimony detailing the Rocket's use of performance-enhancing-drugs. Weird.

From SI.com:

McNamee speaks fondly about his successful pairing with Clemens; apparently, he hasn't quite let go. There are signs that he'd like their old relationship back. Clemens revealed on 60 Minutes that McNamee emailed him for fishing tips days before Mitchell's findings were divulged without hinting what was to come, an assertion that McNamee didn't deny.

McNamee explains that he was prohibited from revealing to anyone what he had told Mitchell. "It was killing me," he says. "I got sick. I could not talk about it. It was a federal investigation.'' McNamee also explains that at the time he was still reasonably hopeful that none of the names Mitchell learned from him or anyone else would be made public. "Why would I tell Roger or Andy something they might not even find out about?'' he says.

McNamee received the first call from the feds way back in May. "I was pretty compelled to tell the truth,'' is the way McNamee put it. "It made me sick,'' he says. 'I was hospitalized for the stress.''

Three months later, in August, he was called before Mitchell, and asked to nod to what he told the feds the month before. When he was done nodding, he says Mitchell hugged him. But he claims he took no pride in it.

"Within the culture of what was going on, he was just a small part of it. A lot of guys did it. You can't take away the work Roger did. You can't take away the fact that he worked out as hard as anybody.'' When McNamee, also a former strength and conditioning coach with the Blue Jays from 1998 through 2000, is asked to estimate how many major leaguers were involved with steroids during that period, he answers without hesitation. "More than half,'' he says.
"When Clemens claims to have no knowledge that Andy Pettitte -- Clemens' close friend and training partner, and another former client of McNamee -- had twice taken HGH, thus corroborating McNamee's testimony in the Mitchell Report, the trainer interjects, "I believe that."

As the 60 Minutes interview draws to a close, Clemens, who will repeat his denials in a news conference the next day, discusses the possibility of taking a lie detector test. "I think he's the one guy who could probably beat the test," McNamee opines. "He might actually believe that he's telling the truth."
More than anything else, the distressed, desperate voice used by McNamee on the strange recorded phone call was caused by a sadness in overseeing his friend and hero's fall from grace. This would explain his desire to recover the friendship he had with Clemens. It also accounts for McNamee's refusal to retract his testimony.

Not saying anything is proven, but it is a passable explanation for McNamee's actions. There's no doubting the trainer's shady nature, just as there is no concurring Roger's denials. The trainer shot first and mortally wounded Clemens before he was even able to load up a defense. The rest is history, and a clouded one at that.

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