Ed. note: This new column is about sports and the law. You can read the introductory installment here.
I was an altar boy for several years as a kid. The priest, who smelled of cigarettes, would whisper “book” when he wanted the book, and over time I became a pro at rocking the bells. Seriously good at shaking those bastards.
Let’s talk sports?
On Wednesday, Dr. Graham Spanier and his attorneys went on the offensive. Spanier, you may recall, is the former Penn State president who was fired in the midst of the Sandusky scandal last November. Joe Paterno died, two former colleagues await trial, and the 64-year-old Spanier simply got a pink slip. You would think that since he escaped the far harsher sentence of his compatriots, he would be grateful. Perhaps he would tend to a garden during this, his senescence, and dream about the days when a child rapist didn’t have free reign over the Penn State campus. If gardening isn’t his thing, maybe drinking is. I know it helps me to forget.
But alas, Spanier is in no mood to forget. On Wednesday, Spanier sought out every audiovisual recording device he could find in order to plead his case to the world. Y’see, everyone’s got it absolutely wrong about Graham Spanier.
Here, let him tell you….
If there is one thing that connects all the different players in the Penn State melodrama, it is the inability of anyone in the humble burg of Happy Valley to shut the f**k up. From Joe Pa’s progeny to Sandusky himself, the shame of it all has not led to anything resembling silence. Graham Spanier continued this respectable tradition when he sat down with Jeffrey Toobin for a wide-ranging interview that sought to burnish the old man’s reputation and ended up doing nothing of the sort.
Toobin admits up front that what he posted on the New Yorker website was an edited version of his conversation with the disgraced former president. Even with that in mind, what follows is an embarrassing attempt to put the child-raping genie back in the bottle. Much digital ink is spilled on Spanier’s fellating of Joe Pa. Paterno was a man of “tremendous energy, he had great enthusiasm for life, he had tremendous integrity, and I would say this to anybody—he was tough on the rules.” He was tough on rules!
In addition, Spanier describes Paterno as a man in possession of “the most remarkable memory of any human being I’ve ever met.” Which, I’ve gotta be honest with you, is the worst kind of character trait to broadcast after something like this has gone down. The most plausible defense is always the Reagan-esque, “I do not recall.” The fact is, lives are too damned busy to remember everything that happens in them. But Spanier is in thrall to the legend of Joe Pa not only to the end, but after it. There’s something honorable about that, I suppose. Not that honor could save Graham Spanier now.
The case against Spanier, as delivered in the Freeh Report, hinges on two important moments in the Sandusky mess. In 1998, Sandusky showered with a boy on the Penn State campus which prompted the boy’s mother to report the incident to police. After investigating, the district attorney declined to prosecute Sandusky. When this occurred, Spanier was copied on two emails that mentioned the investigation. Now, this is by far the weakest link in the chain of events that sullies Spanier’s legacy. He was merely copied on the emails and can plausibly say that his busy life didn’t include fully digesting what was being said in 1998. And he does say as much. Unfortunately, he says more than that. He goes on to offer up the lamest excuse in the history of the internet. Behold:
I have no memory, and I still don’t today. I can’t even swear that I saw those e-mails. Because first of all, back in that era, every so often, maybe once a month, our I.T. folks would say, “All the e-mails today have been lost, if you were expecting any you need to write people and tell them to resend them because the system went down.” Honest to goodness, I had no recollection of 1998, didn’t in 2001, have no recollection now, what I’m telling you I’m only for the sake of not wanting people to think that I’m hiding something.
Yep, the internet ate his homework.
Now, while it is thoroughly believable that Spanier didn’t appreciate what was happening in 1998, it is the accumulation of Sandusky’s misdeeds that matter. And in 2001 (a full decade before Sandusky would be brought to justice), it seems like the folks in Happy Valley could have stopped the monster. As most of us know by now, that is when Mike McQueary caught the old man raping a child in the showers. McQueary told Joe Pa, Joe Pa told the Athletic Director and senior vice president, and those two told Spanier. A helluva game of telephone, I’ll admit. I’m sure Spanier’s explanation of why this report didn’t move him to action is a good one. Behold yet again:
After a meeting, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz came to me with a heads-up…. I don’t know if they said it was from Joe Paterno or if it was obvious that it came from Joe Paterno. They said we received a report that a member of the athletic department staff, after a workout in one of our athletic facilities, saw Jerry Sandusky in the locker room with one of his kids, meaning one of his Second Mile kids. And it was reported that they were horsing around in the shower. Now they either used the word “horsing around” or “horseplay.” And the staff member wasn’t sure what he saw, because it was indirect and around a corner.
And I remember asking two questions. “Are you sure that’s how it was described to you, as ‘horsing around’?” And the answer was yes from both Gary and Tim. And, “Are you sure that’s all that was said to you?” And the answer was yes. I remember, for a moment, sort of figuratively scratching our heads and thinking about what’s an appropriate way to follow up on “horsing around.” I had never gotten a report like that before.
He remembers asking them to parse the description carefully. He was intent on having them repeat something back to him that involved a f**king horse. This is a question he remembers asking, because of course it is. It was the most important thing in the world at that moment. He absolutely had to be sure that what had happened between an old man and a child was horsing around or horseplay. Horses.
And so Graham Spanier’s fantastic PR offensive leaves us with two conclusions: Spanier doesn’t understand computers and has a thing for the ponies. This is the result of Spanier’s grand PR offensive. Why oh why can’t any of these people just shut the f**k up? What good does it do to trot out this old man in an attempt to explain away his actions? Like most old people, he shows a fairly demonstrative inability to advocate for himself. Which, okay, fine. I asked my mother the other day what she was going to do for her birthday and she replied that she was going to go eat at a “Mexican food restaurant.” This is what old people do. They make no sense. From ashes to ashes, nonsense to nonsense. And yet, Graham Spanier’s lawyers weren’t able to convince him to leave it to the professionals. For a rather unkind review of the lawyers’ performance, click here.
Bill Parcells liked to quip that you are what your record says you are. Unfortunately for all those who had bit roles in this horrific affair, their public record will always remain 0 and allowed-a-bunch-of-kids-to-be-raped. And no amount of public relations will change that.
This week brought news that America’s favorite idiot, Ryan Lochte, plans to trademark the word “Jeah.” The Huffington Post quotes Lochte as explaining the word thusly:
“It means, like, almost, like, everything,” Lochte said, trying to explain the word’s meaning in a 2009 YouTube video. “Like happy. Like, if you have a good swim, you say, ‘Jeah.’ Like, it’s good. So, I guess … it means good.”
Someday, our children will ask us when our love affair with irony ended. And we can point to this moment. The moment when an idiotic swimmer started wearing grills and tried to claim some indeterminate meaning for a word that originated in hip-hop music. G-yeah.
But don’t despair, Lochte may get his comeuppance. Like a scene out of CB4, the genuine article has come out of the woodwork. And he doesn’t sound happy. Meet the rapper who claims to have invented the phrase, America:
“Why try and trademark something his ass didn’t even create? I am mad that he isn’t giving me proper recognition for taking my saying. He is just disrespectful,” MC Eiht said. Reached by TMZ for comment, Lochte’s manager said this was the first he’d ever heard of MC Eiht’s complaint.
Straight outta Locash, crazy motherf**ker named Lochte.
EDDIE MURRAY STRIKES OUT
Eddie Murray was known for not saying much as a ballplayer. Not the most popular player amongst sportswriters, Murray was accused of being aloof. But perhaps he was just a really great listener? Last Friday, Murray was charged with insider trading for profiting off a tip from another former baseball player, Doug DeCinces. Murray had already settled with the SEC before the charges were announced. Fortune explains how it was alleged to have gone:
Basically, DeCinces was a “close friend” and neighbor to the CEO of Advanced Medical Optics, a publicly-traded company that was preparing to announce an acquisition by Abbott Laboratories (ABT). When announced, the deal would be priced at a 143% premium to AMO’s closing price the prior day.
DeCinces bought a bunch of shares, and also told several friends. Among them apparently was Murray, who purchased 17,000 shares of AMO stock.
RAP SHEET ROLL CALL
* Michael Jordan’s son was fined $250 for getting into a loud argument with his girlfriend and another friend outside an Omaha Embassy Suites in July. He’s the Michael Jordan of really lame and depressing scrapes with the law.
* Minnesota State’s head football coach was charged with possession of child pornography. Specifically, for possessing child pornography that featured his own children. Dauber just threw up in his mouth a little.
* And finally, the disgusting hoodrat culture of tennis refereeing was finally exposed for what it is this week when 70-year-old Lois Goodman was arrested for killing her husband with a coffee mug. If convicted, Lois faces 40-to-love.
We keep a pretty early bedtime here at the Spaw Lorts desk. Because of that, we were caught with our pants down when the big Lance Armstrong news hit the wire. I mean, our pants were totally down. Here at the Spaw Lorts desk, we go to bed early and, when we do, we sleep with our pants down. Not off, mind you, just down. Around our ankles. Here at the Spaw Lorts desk. So we apologize if you read this far only to find nothing on the big decision by Lance Armstrong to not fight the doping charges levied against him by the USADA. To make it up to you, this week’s quiz features quotes from Lance Armstrong and also seven-time People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, Harry Blackmun. Guess who said what!
A) “Few decisions are more personal and intimate, more properly private, or more basic to individual dignity and autonomy, than a woman’s decision — with the guidance of her physician and within the limits specified in Roe — whether to end her pregnancy.”
B) “A child, male or female, is still a child.”
C) “If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on.”
D) “I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death.”
Former Penn State President Graham Spanier Speaks [The New Yorker]
‘Jeah!’ Ryan Lochte To Trademark Bizarre Catchphrase [Huffington Post]
Hall of shame: Eddie Murray charged with insider trading [Fortune]