Last week NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced that the league will investigate the sexual harassment of a female Boston Herald reporter in the New England Patriots locker room (SI, Oct. 1). Pats owner Victor Kiam announced that the team will cooperate fully with investigator Philip Heymann, a Harvard law professor. Given Kiam's actions throughout this episode, the NFL has reason to look closely at the owner.
After a New England practice on Sept. 17, Herald beat reporter Lisa Olson was allegedly approached in the Patriots locker room by five naked players who directed lewd gestures and comments at her. Two male reporters—Tom Archdeacon of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News and Glenn Farley of the Brockton, Mass., Enterprise—say that after New England's game in Cincinnati on Sept. 23, they overheard Kiam say of Olson, "What a classic bitch. No wonder none of the players like her."
Kiam denies having made the comment, but last week he conceded that he did say something about Olson. "What I said was, 'She sure is aggressive,' " said Kiam.
October 7, 1990
Early last week Kiam sent Olson an apology for the players' actions and later said, "I repeat my apology...and regret any remarks which I made which may have been misconstrued as having condoned the locker room actions." The "misconstrued" remarks, which Kiam made to the Herald on Sept. 22, were, "I can't disagree with the players' actions. Your paper is asking for trouble by sending a female reporter to cover the team."
The NFL announced its own investigation after New England's pitiful probe resulted in one player, tight end Zeke Mowatt, being fined a reported $2,000 of his $650,000 salary. An outcry ensued from the Sept. 17 incident and from the Pats' self-serving reaction to it. The clamor included a call by the Herald for Kiam's suspension from the league and threats from women's groups to boycott shaving products made by the Kiam-owned Remington Products Inc. Kiam's response to all of this was to hire the high-powered New York public relations firm of Howard Rubenstein Associates to improve his image.
Kiam's media blitz was immediate. In a full-page ad in Sunday's editions of The New York Times and Boston Globe, and in Monday's Herald, he offered testimonials from three people "who were by my side the entire time I was in the locker room." All three denied that Kiam said anything unkind about Olson. On Sunday, Kiam met with Olson, and then appeared on the NFL pregame shows of both CBS and NBC to finger unnamed Patriots front-office types for not having filled him in on how his players had behaved toward Olson in the locker room. "I apologize to Lisa," Kiam said. "I apologize for the misinformation I have been given by the Patriots' management." Kiam also said "there will be changes" in his front office, but Tagliabue then told him not to dismiss anyone until the league finishes its investigation. Nonetheless, Kiam immediately announced that he was bringing in an executive from Remington to oversee the Patriots, an action that apparently left general manager Pat Sullivan with a job in name only.
Earlier in the week, before their meeting, Olson said of Kiam, "He's a joke, obviously." And while the joke isn't funny, Olson is right.
WE'RE NOT MAKING THIS UP
Evel Knievel was called to testify recently on behalf of a motorcycle accident victim in Deer Lodge, Mont., who is suing the manufacturer of the bike. Alas, Judge Ted Mizner ruled that Knievel, who broke various bones a total of 433 times in his 15-year career as a motorcycle daredevil, cannot be considered an expert witness on the subject of motorcycle crashes.
NOT ABOVE THE LAW
"Athletic contests do not give license to violent behavior." Those were the words of Santa Clara [Calif.] County Juvenile Court Judge John Herlihy, who last week denied a motion to grant an early release to a high school basketball player convicted of punching an opponent during a junior varsity game.
Last January, 17-year-old Ruperto Corral of Gilroy High punched a North Salinas High player after the two scrambled for a rebound. The 16-year-old victim suffered a broken nose and nerve damage to his face, which was so swollen that doctors initially could not examine one of his eyes. The state of California charged Corral with battery involving serious bodily injury. "This was an unprovoked act of rage [by] a person who lacks self-control," said Herlihy.
Corral's sentence was surprising: three months at a juvenile rehabilitation ranch. But Herlihy's words were as unexpected as the sentence. Athletic contests, especially professional ones, have almost always given license to violent behavior. Assaults are—to cite just two examples—frequent on NHL rinks and in major league batters' boxes; prosecution is nonexistent, and sentencing, as in the case of the one-day sentence for then-Minnesota North Star Dino Ciccarelli's on-ice mugging of a Toronto Maple Leaf in January 1988, is absurdly light.
Last week, Gilroy High officials asked Herlihy to release Corral (whose sentence is up on Oct. 3) nine days early so he wouldn't miss classes. "We wanted to impress on the judge that the sentence was very severe for action in the heat of an athletic contest," says Gilroy athletic director Sal Tomasello, who points out that the school had already suspended Corral for the remainder of last season, suspended him from school for three days for fighting and suspended him from extracurricular activities for six weeks.
Gilroy officials also noted that Corral had no history of fighting and has been a model resident at the juvenile ranch. The six-foot, 220-pound junior plans to join the Gilroy football team as a defensive tackle later this month, and Gilroy basketball coach Tracy Carpenter says he would also welcome Corral back to his team. But by making Corral serve the full three months, perhaps the judge will do what the victim's father implored him to do last week: "Help [Corral] learn that the punishment did fit the crime."
A group of women in a Notre Dame dormitory have adopted a Clemson fullback as their favorite college football player. They have even procured an autographed photo, inscribed: "Best wishes to all my fans in Howard Hall. [Signed] Howard Hall."
You may have heard about the brief sideline career of Charles Daugherty, the 26-year-old man who passed himself off as Cheyen Weatherly, a 17-year-old girl, and made the cheerleading squad at a Colorado Springs, Colo., high school this fall. Last week Daugherty taped an appearance on the Sally Jessy Raphael show during which he claimed that it wasn't he but another of his five personalities who briefly led the cheers in September. And he appeared on the show not as Daugherty or Weatherly, but as 17-year-old Shannon Ireland.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to tell exactly who Daugherty is. On Sept. 6, someone claiming to be Cheyen Weatherly enrolled as a junior at Coronado High in Colorado Springs. According to her transcripts, she was transferring from Greece, where she had been privately tutored for two years. The brunette, blue-eyed Weatherly, who was told she would make a strong base for the human pyramid, tried out for the cheerleading squad.
After the 5'9", 164-pound Weatherly performed at a pep rally for the Cougars' fall athletic teams in a uniform that included a short skirt, Coronado High art teacher Loran Mundy noted that "for a cheerleader, you would have to say she looked large." School officials soon discovered that Weatherly's transcripts were phony, and that they pointed to a past as dark as Weatherly's five o'clock shadow—which, teachers noted, appeared during two o'clock classes.
On Sept. 18, police arrested the cheerleader on criminal impersonation and forgery charges. Weatherly's transcripts weren't all that were false. Her brown hair, it turned out, was a wig. Her blue eyes were tinted contact lenses. And her real name, police said, was Charles James Daugherty.
Police identified Daugherty, who was released on $750 bail, as a female impersonator with a record of arrests on burglary and theft charges, not to mention a history of fraudulent pep. Claiming to be a niece of Donald Trump's named Shannon Ireland Trump, Daugherty spent part of last season on the cheer-leading corps of the Colorado Springs Spirit, a now defunct minor league football team. "We did our cheerleading try-outs, and she made the squad," Betsy Acree, the former Spirit cheerleader coach, said of Daugherty. "She was great. I have nothing bad to say about the girl, except that she wasn't a girl."
THEY SAID IT
•Dennis Rappaport, boxing manager, on why he is reluctant to comment about his relationship with fighter Thomas Hearns: "I don't want to tell you any half-truths unless they're completely accurate."
•Ralph Kiner, New York Mets broadcaster, to hot outfielder Daryl Boston: "You have really solidified the Mets' centerfield problem."