Tuesday, May 15, 2007 Updated: May 16, 11:15 AM ET
Who framed Roger Clemens? Not us
By Scoop Jackson Page 2
I waited all week for it -- for something, anything, to happen.
Roger Clemens -- the most selfish man in sports?
I watched, I listened, I read, waiting for someone -- anyone -- to say something; to break down how selfish Roger Clemens really is to continue to treat the game this way. The game of baseball, the one America holds so dearly to its heart. Instead, nothing. The only point of national contention seems to be a "freedom clause" in his contract that allows him to go home on off days.
The media -- the people who are supposed to be the voices of reason, the protectors of the sanctity of sports -- collectively have acted as if Roger Clemens' signing with the Yankees was about Roger Clemens' signing with the Yankees. The media is failing to recognize this is about how one man not only has put an "I" in team, but put a "me" in MLB and "myself" in professional sports.
Roger Clemens is without question the most selfish athlete of our time.
Either that, or he's the most celebrated pimp in professional sports.
Now, I like Roger Clemens, a lot. Always have. I'll root for him whenever he's on the mound, as long as he's not facing Pedro Martinez. I respect his "gangster." It's not him I have the issue with. If he can continue getting away with what he's doing, more power to him. Play the game, don't ever let it play you. Ball Player Rule No. 4080.
My issue is with us, the media. We tell ourselves and the public that we'll be objective and fair, and provide balanced coverage, and set the proper agenda for what should be topics of national discussion.
So when AI misses practice, we tell you about it. When Floyd Landis says it was Jack Daniel's and not synthetic testosterone in his system, we tell you about it. When a player holds out when a player is in a contract dispute when a player is under suspicion of illegal drug use when a player re-retires five times when a player isn't doing what's in the best interest of his team or his sport, we are on the front line to get you past the PR spin and the player's BS.
This is what we do. This is our job.
But when a player, year after year, holds teams -- heck, an entire sport -- hostage, affecting everything from payroll to personnel moves, all for the benefit of his personal happiness, it seems it's our job to ignore it. To act like it doesn't keep happening. Instead, let's make a big deal about what he's allowed to do on his off days. Yeah, that's the story.
As we always say in this business, "the public has the right to know." And you all have the right to know when someone has a God complex and represents everything that is wrong with professional sports.
Now, I know there are some athletes who, because of who they are and because of their relationship with us, get "passes" on some things we'd normally take issue with. For example, if Brett Favre wasn't Brett Favre, we'd have a major issue with his annual "holding the Packers at bay" ritual before deciding whether to return for another season.
But like Dave Chappelle's old skit, "When Keepin' It Real Goes Wrong," this latest situation should be dubbed "When The Benefit Of The Doubt Goes Too Far: The Roger Clemens Edition."
All I'm saying is, sometimes in life we have to call a spade a spade, a crook a crook, a con artist a con artist, a selfish SOB a selfish SOB, a great pitcher a great pitcher a pimp a pimp. And I feel it's my duty to say what needs to be said about the great Roger Clemens:
So what he's been pitching for 23 years?
So what he has rings, Cy Youngs and 348 wins?
So what the last time he pitched his ERA was 2.30?
So what he has more than 4,000 strikeouts?
He's a self-absorbed, beyond-arrogant, bigger-than-the-game, I-have-no-respect-or-honor-for-the-concept-of-team, I-only-pitch-when-I-feel-like-it, any-team-should-feel-blessed-to-have-me, Randy-Johnson-will-never-be-on-my-level, the-world-revolves-around-me, kiss-the-ground-I walk-on, worship-who-I-am-because-I-am-the-me-myself-and-I-in-MLB pimp.
But again, my problem is not with Roger, it's with us. The media cowards. Because all of us, for too long now, have looked past all of this and validated what I've said my whole life: "Pimpin' ain't easy, the media is just scared."
Scoop Jackson is a columnist for Page 2 and a contributor to ESPN The Magazine. He's also the host of ESPN Original Entertainment's "NBA Live: Bring It Home". Sound off to Scoop here.