It’s been a long five years for Roger Clemens. Clemens’ name showed up on the Mitchell Report half a decade ago and since that time, he has been facing accusations of having used performance-enhancing drugs during a stellar 23-year career as a pitcher where he won seven Cy Young Awards and two World Series Championships. Furthermore, Clemens also faced charges that he obstructed and lied to Congress denying his use of steroids. Through it all, Clemens maintained his innocence all along and after five years of having his reputation smeared and his name being used as a punch line, the jury sided with Clemens and the Rocket has been acquitted of all charges that he obstructed and lied to Congress when he denied using PED’s. Clemens standing in the court of public opinion is still up for debate but in his first interview away from the courtroom, Clemens went to Houston, his home town, to open up.
Roger Clemens joined SportsRadio 610 in Houston to talk about how he feels after being acquitted of charges, whether he and Andy Pettitte have had any conversations and if he thinks a relationship can ever be re-established with him, what he would say to the people that believe he opened up his wallet to get off, whether he would vote for players that have been accused of using steroids and if he is concerned about being called a “cheater” for the rest of his life.
On how he feels after being acquitted of charges:
“I’ve been living it for maybe five and a half years. The thing that I tried to do without being able to say anything was keep it pretty much normal around the house and around friends. Just try to stay on par with who I am. My public image, that’s what I did, not who I am. I think the people behind the scenes and having a chance to meet me or go one-on-one when I’m on the mound or when I was working as a professional, I took it very seriously. Behind the scenes I like to have a good time and make everyone feel comfortable in their situation. No different than the many, many e-mails, phone calls I’ve been getting. They all mean the same to me whether they came from celebrity-type friends or my ex-managers or players from all four teams or just friends or close friends. We weren’t sure when we were going to hear the verdict. They told us to be on call for 15-20 minutes and I actually had the boys up there with me, they wanted to be there and tried to encourage them to stay and do what they needed to do and they told me ‘dad you’re crazy, we’ve gotta be there for you.’ We had an equipment bag and we’re walking toward a field to throw and do some stuff. We actually contacted Georgetown University, the coaches were real nice and they were going to let us use their facility and indoor cages at night so we were trying to keep it as normal as possible. Then my phone rang and they said ‘we’ve got a verdict, get to the courthouse.’ So we did a quick sprint back to the place we were staying and threw our suits on, the boys got dressed, we went over and it was great. I had some close friends that had actually came in before and they said they wanted to come back so they came back. I think Michael and Rusty (Hardin) and Rusty’s team here, they did a fantastic job and they were obviously my mouthpiece over the last few years when I had to sit there and be cut down to my knees on some days and half the days you’re a good guy. Very appreciative. I think I was able to keep my emotions a little bit in check. Thank my teammates and the people that came in on my behalf and like we said we didn’t want another mistrial. We wanted to get it out there so people could hear the truth and hear what went down. It was great. Rusty did a fantastic job with his team and his team behind there. The support that I’ve had throughout the country has been fantastic. Very appreciative and obviously the only disappointment I had was, I understand the game when you’re in a courtroom and we had some people come in that gave great testimony and was not really for one side or the other, said their piece and then at the end, in closing, they were called liars and one of my ex-managers, I thought Phil Garner came in and did a fantastic job, was basically telling a few stories and they kind of cut him off at the knees in closing and it was really disappointing for me to hear that. There’s people that you love and you respect and you come in to that setting and you would think, you would hear what you want to hear and sometimes you don’t. I learned a lot on both sides of it. I think the most interesting thing was being able to talk to a few jurors after and hearing their perspective on it and just really thankful that they were paying attention and were able to see what went on and how we approach things and how you do things.”
Whether he and Andy Pettitte have had conversations:
“We haven’t talked and just for the fact that we weren’t really allowed to. Andy wasn’t the only guy that came in. There were teammates that I haven’t seen in ten years and you really can’t talk to them. That’s really difficult because they want you to reach out or they want to reach out to you and you’re just not allowed to do it. Your hands are tied. Andy and I swore in before. The same thing like I said when I went to the Congressional hearing which I went in there wholeheartedly wanting to answer his questions the best I could and that’s what one of the jurors said. Two of the jurors, they got our tapes of what we said, our testimony and went back and listened and said sure enough they had it dead on. She said, ‘we listened to you and how you tried to answer before you went to Congress, to the finding committee,’ I had to do that first and they listened to my voice and how I was trying to answer and she said ‘every time you tried to answer a question they gobbled you down or they cut you off and wouldn’t let you talk.’ I said ‘well that’s probably why I would’ve been a bad witness because I was speed talking trying to say my piece before I got gobbled down’ but I think as you guys have seen, when I did go to Congress, which everyone says is voluntarily, that’s just absolutely comical when people make that statement because if I would’ve said no they would’ve subpoenaed me in a heartbeat so we tried to do everything they asked and every turn and everything the government asked for we opened up our arms and our house and everything they wanted. They went around the world looking for people to tie me to. I did that with Mike Wallace on 60 minutes. I invited him to find anybody from high school that gave me a drug or this or that and came up with one guy who of course painted himself as my personal trainer and everybody who takes the time to get to know me I’ve had several trainers at the same time and this guy, for some reason, the government wanted to paint him as my personal trainer which he absolutely was not. I’ve had, like I said many, many trainers and of course those guys have good programs here or there that I look at and no one has ever taught me since high school how to do a sit-up or how to run hard or how to work hard and they just tried to diminish that with one person. But it was a long time coming.”
What he would say to the people that believe he opened his wallet to get off:
“I didn’t get off. A jury heard and listened very closely and like I said I’m doing this because I had some media people in our corner that had taken the time to read and educate themselves about the situation which we appreciate as family. I think that’s probably the thing I’m hurt the most by is my extended family, because I’m the public figure so I’m used to getting certain things bounced off you good and bad and I have to tell you, the goods far outweigh the bad over the years, it’s been nothing but great and you’ll never convince people that don’t know you, right or wrong, I don’t judge people that way but most that don’t know me, I wouldn’t get in a war with a tabloid paper that’s been on the opponents’ side from day one as he was lying to them and doing stuff with them from day one so it’s just, like I said, our hearts are cracked a little bit but they’re not broken. We continue to do the things that we love to do and the things that I love to do in the community, we’re still doing them. You really can’t control that. I’m coming on with you, I did a thing with Marc Berman who has known me since high school and that’s probably all I’m going to do for a while until I give the opportunity to family to each write down their thoughts and their feelings. Everybody has been keeping their notes and there were a couple things that were being said about me in court and hearing the perspective from the jurors and they said ‘well we saw you getting red faced one time and we knew you didn’t like what they were saying about you and we weren’t really baseball fans but were baseball fans now’ and it was just very interesting to listen to. There were a lot of things that we thought were important that the judge wouldn’t let in about the people that were telling tales on us but I guess that’s the rules. I learned a lot.”
Whether he would vote for players that have been implicated for steroid use:
“I was fired up that day and I should’ve probably kept myself away from some of the comments that were being made about that. They were really shallow comments about that’s what it was all about. Again I think the people that know me, especially the ones here at home that have been around me and have had an opportunity to meet me, I didn’t play my career to hopefully get to the Hall-Of-Fame. It’s something that I would love to do and took a lot of pride in it, they way I went about it, pressure of pitching in Boston and New York is one thing but I still felt I had a huge obligation when I committed to come home and play here, pitching in front of friends and family and all the distractions that go with it because I know local people that have come back and not done so well. I took pride in that but was the comment about it? Of course I have a lot of respect for the Hall-Of-Fame and I’m not going to go around and shake people’s hand and worry about being introduced as a Hall-Of-Famer, that’s not why I worked extremely hard in the game. I worked extremely hard for the love of the game at first and then I realized that if I do this right, work hard, I get everything done, I can take care of my family, my extended family and I remember saying that to one congressman. The congressman looked at me and said ‘yeah all you athletes, you million dollar athletes and your silver spoon’ and I said ‘hold up there congressman,’ I said ‘I’d appreciate if you looked at my background a little bit and how I grew up without a dad and then my stepdad basically became my dad and was with my mother working three jobs and how hard she worked to get me a glove and a pair of cleats, I just appreciate you not grouping me in with just everybody.’ I was definitely upset that day and I think Rusty tried to send me a note or two and shrugged those off. I wasn’t happy that day. I thought that’s where it was going was about that. It was about the respect I had for the game myself and what I was being accused of doing. How do you prove a negative and I tried to go through every step and did go through every step and we didn’t want another mistrial. It looked like it might be going that way and I told both Rusty and Michael, I don’t want another mistrial because again I keep hearing the comments about Congress and the things that went on there and turned into a Jerry Springer Show. I’m a little tired but I did get texts from my closer friends. We’re going to write a lot of our feelings down on paper and I’m going to give the opportunity to a lot of people that this affected just as much as me and hurt them just as much and like I said, I hope I don’t change my way, the type of person I am, the way I treat people and I just don’t think I’ll do that. I’m just going to continue to stay that way and be myself. As far as the second part about the voting, I can’t control that. I don’t know most of the guys that have votes, I really don’t know who has votes as writers. I hate answering questions about what hat you’re going to wear in. I make a joke that I want to wear a University of Texas visor or a Titleist visor just because I don’t like answering the question because I have great ties to all the clubs I’ve played for.”
If he is concerned about the people that call him arrogant, a diva and now a cheater:
“I think it’s been just the opposite. Everywhere I’ve gone people have been great. I can’t control the ones that do that. There’s not much you can do about it. If they want to call me arrogant or competitive or whatever they want to call me on the mound then go right ahead. In 24 years out there maybe my emotions have gotten the bets of me a few times but basically it means I care and like I said if I didn’t have four boys and the wife I probably would’ve told them all to go a different direction for a lack of a better word. We have a lot of friends and family and when you open up your house to people you never think behind the scenes that somebody is planning and plotting something against you because they are either jealous of you or have an axe to grind. I can’t fathom the situation that happened. All you can do is try to prove a negative when they say it about you. Being a public figure I understand it happens. I don’t think it’s right because I don’t want to treat people that way.”