Report: Roger Clemens sues Brian McNamee for defamation

Updated: January 7, 2008, 10:14 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- "What do you want me to do?"

Brian McNamee asked Roger Clemens that question -- or variations of it -- 21 times during a 17-minute taped conversation.

He never really got an answer.

A recording of last Friday's telephone call between Clemens' former trainer and the seven-time Cy Young Award winner was played at Clemens' long-awaited news conference Monday, the first time he faced a group of reporters since McNamee's accusations were made public in the Mitchell Report on Dec. 13.

"What do you want me to do? I'll go to jail, I'll do whatever you want," McNamee said.

"I need somebody to tell the truth, Mac," Clemens told him.

Never, though, did Clemens angrily confront McNamee during the call nor did he accuse the trainer of lying when he told Mitchell he injected Clemens at least 16 times with steroids and human growth hormone in 1998, 2000 and 2001.

Asked why Clemens never directly answered the "what do you want me to do" question, his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said: "The last thing Roger wanted, just as we did, was any suggestion that we were trying to interfere or coerce a federal witness. So, yeah, all he kept saying (was) nothing. Except you hear him throughout saying, 'Tell the truth."

Under state law in New York and Texas, only one party has to give consent for a phone conversation to be taped. In this case, it was Clemens, who was at home. McNamee spoke on a cellular phone.

Hardin said that because McNamee didn't deny Clemens' claims that he never used steroids, it amounted to proof that Clemens was telling the truth. Clemens said McNamee initiated the conversation by sending him an e-mail.

"He said his son was sick and dying. That's why I reached out," Clemens said.

Late Sunday, Clemens filed a defamation suit against McNamee in Texas state court, another salvo in the escalating fight between the pair, who had worked together since they met while with the Toronto Blue Jays a decade ago. One of McNamee's lawyers, Richard Emery, said his client probably will sue Clemens in New York.

After the tape was played, Clemens took about a dozen questions from reporters before testily ending the session on the subject of the Hall of Fame.

"Do you think I played my career because I'm worried about the damn Hall of Fame?" he told a room filled with many potential voters. "You keep your vote. I don't need the Hall of Fame to justify that I put my butt on the line and I worked my tail off, and I defy anybody to say I did it by cheating or taking any shortcuts, OK?"

Hardin said the pitcher was willing to testify Jan. 16 to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. McNamee also has agreed, and the pair will have to repeat their assertions under oath on Capitol Hill. Hardin said Clemens will deny steroid use.

"I'm going to Congress and I'm going to tell the truth," Clemens said. "I'm going to tell everything that I know about the situations and steroids and anything else that I have knowledge about, which isn't a lot."

The committee planned to ask Clemens' representatives for the complete recording of the telephone conversation played at the news conference, said Karen Lightfoot, communications director for the panel's chairman, California Democrat Henry Waxman.

Clemens' former teammates Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch, also have been asked to testify. Pettitte hired Jay Reisinger, the lawyer who represented Sammy Sosa before the committee three years ago.

Kirk Radomski also was asked to appear before the committee. In the Mitchell Report, McNamee said he obtained the drugs he used to inject Clemens from the former Mets clubhouse attendant or Clemens supplied them.

Emery said Brian McNamee Jr., 10, has celiac disease, which damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.

"It's outrageous and disgusting for them to for their own cynical purposes, to perpetuate a continuing lie, to use this child and splay his disease and disability all over the press for the world to know," Emery said. "It just shows they'll go to any lengths."

McNamee sounded distraught during the conversation.

"I'm in your corner. I don't want this to happen. But I'd also like not to go to jail, too," he said.

His voice cracked when he said: "My wife is gone. My kids are gone."

"I don't have any money. I have nothing," McNamee said. "I'm not doing a book deal. I got offered seven figures to go on TV. I didn't do it. I didn't take it. I didn't do anything. All I did was what I thought was right -- I never thought it was right, but I thought that I had no other choice, put it that way."

McNamee said during the call that in 2004 he warned Jim Murray, who works for Clemens' agents, to be prepared for a link to Radomski to come out.

"Any suggestion by Brian McNamee that he gave the name of Kirk Radomski to anyone at our firm is erroneous," Hendricks Sports Management said in a statement.

On Sunday, McNamee told SI.com that Clemens was "in no way an abuser of steroids."

"He took them in late July, August, and never for more than four to six weeks max," he was quoted as saying. "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."

Hardin said he is recommending that Clemens not take a lie detector test.

"I think he's the one guy who could probably beat the test," McNamee told SI.com. "He might actually believe that he's telling the truth."

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AP sports writers Ronald Blum and Rachel Cohen in New York and Howard Fendrich in Washington contributed to this report.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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