Commentary

Memo to Roger and Rusty: Show us the lawsuit

Originally Published: May 1, 2008
By Lester Munson | ESPN.com

Suggestion to Roger Clemens and Rusty Hardin: Show us the lawsuit.

It wasn't long after the release of the Mitchell report that Clemens and Hardin, his attorney, came out firing. Brian McNamee's allegations that Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs, they said, are "absolutely false and defamatory."

They were so sure of themselves that they repeated the "absolutely false and defamatory" phrase 15 times in the lawsuit they filed against McNamee 26 days after the Mitchell report became public.

You could almost feel their rage as they hammered away at McNamee in the lawsuit, saying the trainer's story had "captured the attention of the nation, fueled rampant speculation and irreparably tainted" Clemens' reputation.

[+] EnlargeRoger Clemens
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez MonsivaisRoger Clemens and his attorneys -- Rusty Hardin, left, and Lanny Breuer, right -- made a lot of noise at February's steroid hearings. But they've been quiet about a legal response to this week's allegations of infidelity.
This week, with the nation's attention again captured and rampant speculation being fueled by new allegations about Clemens -- this time concerning suggestions that the pitcher might have carried on extramarital affairs, including relationships with country singer Mindy McCready and Paulette Dean Daly, the ex-wife of golfer John Daly -- where is the rage?

More importantly, where is the lawsuit?

If McNamee's assertions were enough to warrant a lawsuit in response, shouldn't these accusations of years of philandering -- not to mention the insinuation that Clemens' romance with McCready began when the singer was only 15 years old -- demand a similar response?

Even if McNamee is right and Clemens used drugs to pitch better, there still will be many fans who appreciate his efforts on the mound and can find forgiveness in their hearts. The use of steroids and HGH would result in some measure of damage to his reputation, but the damage would not be universal. It's a form of cheating, but it's cheating to help his team win.

Cheating on his family, on the other hand, is just plain cheating, especially when it's with a troubled singer and one of John Daly's ex-wives. The American public quite possibly would find those sorts of transgressions to be much more difficult to forgive.

But Clemens and his lawyers have been curiously silent about seeking recourse -- legal or otherwise -- to address the recent allegations. There has been no news conference. There has been no appearance on "60 Minutes." And there have been no new lawsuits against the media outlets that published the stories or the women who have corroborated the reports of their relationships with Clemens -- even though Clemens and Hardin dispute the truth of the alleged affair with McCready.

On Monday night, Hardin issued a statement that said, in part, "Mindy McCready is a longtime family friend of Roger Clemens and the Clemens family. At no time did Roger engage in any kind of inappropriate or improper relationship with her."

For two days, ESPN.com has been requesting comment about a possible lawsuit from Hardin and from a public relations firm that represents Clemens. Voice mails and e-mails have gone unanswered, with two exceptions. Joe Householder, the PR man Clemens hired after the release of the Mitchell report, said, "I am currently inactive." And one of Hardin's associates said only that the attorney "is on trial in Las Vegas and unavailable."

No doubt, people want to believe that Clemens is not a philanderer. But they're likely going to have difficulty maintaining that belief until he and Hardin show us the lawsuit.

Lester Munson, a Chicago lawyer and journalist who reports on investigative and legal issues in the sports industry, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.