This is an article from the April 11, 2011 issue
ANGRY AUBURN ALUM
Evans played fullback for the Tigers from 1998 through 2000 and was drafted by the Seahawks in '01. He has been with the Saints since '09.
Dan Patrick:What was your reaction when you saw former Auburn players say they took illegal benefits [from 2002 to '08] on HBO's Real Sports?
Heath Evans: I felt like it was my four-year-old that I had trapped in a lie, and she kept lying and lying and lying to try to get herself out of trouble. This is like story time for those guys. Everybody wants his 15 minutes of fame. Obviously their football fame has passed them up. At the end of the day it's ridiculous at best.
DP:What would they gain by lying?
HE: Everybody craves the spotlight that football creates. Every one of these players had a minuscule taste of that fame. When that disappears, you do a lot of different things to cling to that. It probably started with a simple lie of "I did this." So-and-so hears it. It kind of gets passed down. Next thing you know, you've got HBO Sports sitting in your living room. And what are you going to say? You going to say, "Oh, no, I made all this up"? No. You're going to continue the fabrication and move on with your story.
DP:But one of the players, Stanley McClover, had success at Auburn and reached the NFL.
HE: He was recruited by [former Auburn running backs coach] Eddie Gran. The same guy that recruited me. The same guy that recruited Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown, the biggest players at Auburn. Guess what? None of them got paid. It doesn't make sense. If you're going to pay one, you're going to pay most of your good players. There was no one who did more for Auburn than I did in my three years there. Never once did I get a $100 handshake or anything else that came out of these guys' mouths.
DP:You were never offered any money?
HE: No. Not at all. People can say that was because you were white from Palm Beach, Florida. They knew you didn't need money. That still doesn't hold water. You don't get bags of money tossed at your feet to come play. There probably is stuff done in this day and age. But it's not done in this form and fashion.
DP:Do you believe Mississippi State would have offered Cam Newton's father money and Auburn wouldn't have offered him anything?
HE: I know [Auburn head coach] Gene Chizik extremely well. I know how the recruiting process went with Cam. Coaches had to stand on the table to get Gene to even offer him a scholarship. Cam ended up being a superstar, maybe the greatest player who's ever set foot on the Auburn University football field. At the end of the day, you're never going to convince me that money changed hands from [someone on] the coaching staff, by an AD or by a president. If a booster got to him ... possibly.
DP:If these players were from Alabama, would you be more skeptical?
HE: Of course, because I know Shaun Alexander and everything he got paid. No, I'm just kidding. I'm not saying this stuff doesn't go on. The stories I just heard on HBO—that's not the case. I can defend our coaches and our AD and the people around our athletic department because I know the men they are.
• Draft Busted
After analyzing college basketball for Turner and CBS throughout the tournament, Charles Barkley feels there's not one freshman good enough to go straight to the NBA. Barkley wants to abolish the current one-and-done rule and require players to stay in college longer. "It's ruining the NBA," Barkley said. "The draft is designed for bad teams to get better, not to draft someone who's going to be better in five years. It ruins the integrity of the game."
• Speed Bump
MLB Network analyst Al Leiter explained why the Yankees have an assistant relaying pitch speeds to hitters even though you can see them on the scoreboard. According to Leiter, certain teams manipulate the figures to their advantage. "Especially with an insecure pitcher who cares about how hard he's throwing," Leiter said. "They'll jack his up." Leiter said teams use the opposite tack on opponents, hoping pitchers will overthrow.
• Line of the week
U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan on Argentina's Lionel Messi: "If LeBron [James] went out and played basketball with high school kids—that's what Messi looks like when he plays against everyone else. And he's doing it against professionals."
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Danny McBride talks about future of Eastbound and Down.
2. David Feherty shares his insights on the 2011 Masters.
THE FINE PRINT: MLB established a seven-day disabled list for concussions this season. No word on the three-day Manny Being Manny List.