by Mark Kriegel FoxSports.com and www.foxsports.com
Mark Kriegel is the national columnist for FOXSports.com. He is the author of two New York Times best sellers including, Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich, which Sports Illustrated called “the best sports biography of the year.” I met Kriegel when he was doing a reading from the Pistol book at Barnes and Noble here in Greensboro last year.
Forget the first round of the NFL playoffs. The only must-see sports TV this weekend is Roger Clemens being interviewed by Mike Wallace on “60 Minutes.”
It’s your best chance of seeing that which networks often advertise but rarely deliver, a performance with historic implications. One only hopes that Wallace â€” now 89, and a self-proclaimed “friend” of the pitcher â€” hasn’t lost his fastball.
At issue is the now-famous Mitchell Report, in which Clemens’ former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, claims to have injected the pitcher with steroids and human growth hormone between 12 and 17 times from 1998 through 2001. It is safe to assume that Clemens will again deny McNamee’s allegations. But by calling McNamee a liar, the man considered the best pitcher of his generation risks his own ruination.
“He’s putting his head in a noose,” said Richard Emery, an attorney now representing the former trainer. “He will be lying if he says McNamee did not inject him. And if he goes on ’60 Minutes,’ and lies about Brian, Brian has no choice but to go after him.”
By go after him, Emery is referring to a defamation suit. That would allow McNamee’s attorneys to depose Clemens. And while it’s one thing to lie to reporters, it’s another entirely to lie under oath.
“He’s risking turning a civil action into a criminal action,” said Emery. “I don’t have any inside information, but I can’t imagine that Robert Morgenthau” â€” the district attorney in Manhattan â€” “or Mike Garcia” â€” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York â€” “wouldn’t be interested in that.”
Perhaps Clemens might want to consult with Barry Bonds, now under indictment for perjury, or Marion Jones, who cut a deal with Garcia’s office and pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents. After the release of the Mitchell Report, Clemens took a familiar offensive, issuing a statement through his agent: “I want to state clearly and without qualification: I did not take steroids, human growth hormone or any other banned substances at any time in my baseball career or, in fact, my entire life.”
Do you think the 89 year-old Mike Wallace will go after Roger Clemens? Is Wallace tough enough to handle this interview? Is Clemens lying through his teeth? Would you say that “The Rocket’s” face will light up with a red glare or will Roger Clemens come out of this whole situation smelling like a rose and end up back in New York pitching for the Yankees this season? Got any thoughts on this one and will you remember to watch “60 Minutes” this Sunday night on CBS?