King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Midweek malaise: Marion Jones tells Oprah how she made a "mistake," Randy Moss denies battery charges, Miguel Tejada's tragedy.

By King Kaufman
January 17, 2008 4:00PM (UTC)
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Come on, best football day of the year. With conference championship Sunday just a few days away, the middle part of this week sure did get depressing all of a sudden.

There was Marion Jones on Oprah Winfrey's show Wednesday. The former Olympic champion is headed to prison for six months for lying to federal agents in a drug investigation. She told Oprah, "I want people to understand that, you know, everybody makes mistakes."


This is the thing now. We seem to be moving beyond the non-apology apology and into the era of saying you made a mistake. Michael Vick said it. Jones is saying it. The next person caught dead to rights doing something nefarious will probably say it.

Jones spent years denying she'd used performance-enhancing drugs. She denied it to federal agents in the BALCO investigation in 2003. She finally admitted late last year that she'd taken the designer steroid THG, known as "the clear," in 2000 and 2001.

Winfrey asked her, "You knew at that time, you knew were lying, right?"


"I made a mistake," Jones said. "I made the choice, at that time, to protect myself, to protect my family."

Jones says she trusted her track coach, Trevor Graham, when he gave her the THG and told her it was flaxseed oil.

That's a mistake. Lying about it for half a decade or more, that's a way of life. I's a pattern of deception. It might even be some kind of pathology. Jones didn't wake up one day and say, "I made a mistake here. I should tell the truth." She ran out of options. She got caught.


"I truly think that a person's character is determined by their admission of their mistakes," she told Winfrey. And it's true that admitting mistakes says a lot of good things about a person's character.

But it doesn't say good things about a person's character to spend years lying to the very people who idolized and enriched her, her adoring public, about the single most important issue in her life and her relationship with those people -- whether her accomplishments were honestly achieved -- and then to minimize those years of deceit by saying, "I made a mistake."


Showing up for a 2 o'clock autograph session at 3 because you entered it into your Blackberry wrong? That's a mistake. This wasn't a mistake. Her "mistake" was getting caught.

Depressing. Because who didn't love Marion Jones? And it's especially depressing for this column, which doesn't care if she took steroids. It's her nickel. But her most devoted fans cared very much, and she kicked them in the teeth.

That's not all that's been depressing this week.


A woman in Florida was granted a temporary restraining order against New England Patriots receiver Randy Moss after accusing him of battering her and refusing to let her seek medical attention. Moss denied the allegations, telling reporters that what happened, which he couldn't explain, was an "accident," and that representatives of the woman had been threatening him since last week that the story would go public if he didn't pay up.

"They're false allegations, something I've been battling for like the last couple of days of threats going public if I didn't pay X amount of dollars," Moss said.

The woman, Rachelle Washington, says she's had an intimate relationship with Moss since 1997. In court papers, she checked boxes indicating that Moss owns guns and has a drug or alcohol problem.


Moss' troubles are nothing compared with those of Miguel Tejada. On Tuesday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., began the committee's latest steroids dog and pony show by announcing that it would be asking the Justice Department to investigate whether the Houston Astros' new shortstop lied when the committee asked him about Rafael Palmeiro's steroid use.

Not long after that, Tejada's older brother was killed in a motorcycle accident in the Dominican Republic.

The attentions of a congressional committee peopled by representatives busy pretending they know or care about baseball must seem like the buzzing of flies in light of a tragedy like that, but Tejada could be in serious hot water if he wasn't telling the truth to the committee when it was looking into whether Palmeiro had, in his turn, lied when he wagged his finger and said under oath that he'd never used steroids.

That, of course, was right before he tested positive for steroids. Now Waxman wants Justice to figure out if Tejada had been lying, under oath, when he said the only kind of shots he knew about were B-12 shots.


Soon there will be a probe into whether some other ballplayer was lying when he said Tejada was clean, and if we can just keep this going long enough, the representatives on this one committee, at least, will be too distracted to do their jobs. And that's always good for the country.

Tejada may have been telling the truth, but let's put it this way: You'll never go broke betting on athletes lying when they're talking about drug use.

Kind of depressing, isn't it?

Previous column: Congress grandstanding? Perish the thought


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    King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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