Ask Gary: Do you believe Lochte’s robbery?

by Gary Shelton on August 20, 2016 · 4 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

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Saturday, 6 a.m.

How buzzed do you have to be to make up a robbery story? Embarrassing yourself, your teammates, the country for goodness sake? Also through the years I've read some of your writings about Tonya Harding.and knew if you ever had a "worst list" she would be on it. She's so bad she's good. For copy, I mean.

Vee Richarsdson

Vee, my question would be "how much do you need the attention of 5-year-old boys?"

I don't think we'll really know what happened that night, but if I had to guess, it would be this. The swimmers stopped at the gas station, and being idiots, they vandalized it. Rather than admit what they had done, the four of them made up a story about policemen shaking them down. That kind of thing has happened frequently in Rio; the swimmers would have heard all of the stories.

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You know the old line about repeating a lie until you believe it? That happened here, in my opinion. Video footage shows the swimmers checking in at the security point unfazed; hardly the comportment of someone who had a gun pointed at his forehead. I'd still be shaking if it was me. My pants would probably be damp, too.

The stories were made of clay. They shaped and changed them until no one's agreed with a teammate's. It was fiction. All of it.

I know that Lochte swore it was true as he apologized. Bullfeathers. If I'm robbed at gunpoint, I'm angry, and I'm not apologizing.

Everyone knows. Most of us can smell a lie at 90 paces. And I think that's going to be the punishment for these swimmers. No one believes a word of what they say. They're con men.

By comparison, heck, Tonya wasn't that bad.

I covered Tonya. I even went on the Today Show to debate her eligibility on the Olympic team. (I thought she deserved to go with no formal charges or a guilty verdict.) I was there the day she and Nancy Kerrigan shared the ice for practice. I was there when she broke her bootstrap.

It's funny. Faced with a thug and a blue blood, most of us preferred the thug. The Harding gang was so comically bad that they were laughable. That erased most of our horror at the crime itself (I still have the police sketches from that day).

You're right. Harding was great for copy. She, too, told a lie that got worse with each retelling.

Maybe she and Lochte can have a kid? Thoughts?

If the NFL head coaching careers of Bill Walsh and Bill Belichick had overlapped, which one would have fared better?

Scott Myers

Belichick. Of course, he might have to cheat to do it.

Seriously, what a great question. Walsh resurrected the 49ers behind the great Joe Montana. Belichick reinvented the Patriots behind the great Tom Brady. If they had overlapped as coaches, they'd probably have played each other in three Super Bowls by now.

I'd give Belichick the slight edge, though. He coached longer (which is why he has won four Super Bowls to Walsh's three), but I'd suggest he did it with fewer all-time greats. Besides Montana, Walsh had Jerry Rice, the best-ever receiver, and Ronnie Lott, one of the top five defensive backs. Besides Brady, the only future legend that Belichick has coached has been Rob Gronkowski (Wes Welker and Tedy Bruschi were close).

Here's a stat for you. In 10 years, Walsh won more than 10 regular season games only three times. In 21 years, Belichick has done it 13 times. Of course, Belichick had a losing record in six of his first seven years, too.

Walsh was a lot more fun to deal with. Belichick always seems to be in a foul mood. And, yes, the cheating scandals will stick with him for a while.

Still, the guy can coach. No one would question that.

Let's beat the dead horse. There's considerable chatter on sports talk radio these days suggesting that Stu Sternberg/Rays make considerable baseball revenue that is not attendance related. Therefore, there is no good reason why another 10-20 million dollars could not be added to the lowest payroll in MLB even considering the abysmal attendance. What say you?

Barry McDowell

Here's a question: How much do the sports talk show hosts know about it? Have they seen Sternberg's books? Have they even questioned him about it? I would suggest that neither is true. I don't know which sports talk show hosts you're talking about, of course.

I have talked to Stu about it, and while no one knows how much to believe, he has assured me that expenditures are very close to what's being spent. Baseball has agreed; the Rays have received funds from revenue sharing.

But this isn't about trusting anyone. We know the Rays have a poor TV contract. That's not debatable. We know they are last in attendance despite having some of the cheapest tickets in the league. That's not debatable. So where are all these millions coming from? Revenue sharing? Think the other owners might squawk if Sternberg was keeping that money for himself?

Could the Rays be paying out more salary than they're paying? Yeah, perhaps. But I don't believe they're siphoning off millions of dollars of profits. The clues just aren't there. (The empty seats, the low TV money).

Baseball teams are not publicly held companies. None of us really know what Sternberg and his partners pocket every year. But you know what? Vince Naimoli didn't have a lot of money, either, and his partners finally stopped spending at his say-so.

It's easy to suggest the Rays should pay more money. But until there are a few more seats filled, is that really the problem?

This, too. Baseball is jammed with players making more than $20 million themselves. Even if you believe the Rays can afford $20 million more (and I don't) per season, which player would make this team a contender by itself.

Short answer. I don't know, but I know the talk show hosts don't know either.

What's your take on the NFL's commissioner Goodell? His latest escapade against some of the league's biggest names on flimsy, not to mention dated, evidence seems like an egotistical effort to remain one of the biggest orange-haired bullies in the news. Have you ever interviewed the guy? Do you think the owners will soon dump their $34 million dollar guy for a more even-handed, less dictatorial and reactive leader? That's all I'm asking!

Richard Wade

Richard, I think Roger is, in a lot of ways, a victim of his time. He keeps getting overruled by the courts, which leaves him looking like a short-sighted bully.

Bottom line, I think he cares about the league (and making owners money, which is his primary job). I think he tried to do the right thing with Greg Hardy, and the courts wouldn't let him. I didn't like his ruling on Deflategate, because I never thought his evidence was enough for a conviction. But I know this. Only a moron would suspend a star as big as Tom Brady unless he believed it was necessary.

From what I read, it seems that most owners still support Goodell. Don't forget. Owners don't care about even-handed or less dictatorial. They just want their league to run smoothly and the money to keep flowing in.

It's the most popular sport in the world. It's rich, and it's going to get richer. If you're an owner, why would anything else matter to you?

I wasn't a big fan of Paul Tagliabue. I thought he was more of a lawyer than a leader. Maybe that's why I tend to give Goodell a break. But saying that, I think he'd be a lot easier to like if he set up a tribunal to determine punishment. Say, someone from the league, someone to represent the players and a third party both of the other two agree with. Tony Dungy would be great in that role.


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