Bears

Clemens had a secret steroid relationship?

736350.jpg

Clemens had a secret steroid relationship?

From Comcast SportsNet
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Brian McNamee described for jurors a relationship with Roger Clemens that had the hallmarks of an illicit affair -- except their secret was steroids. "Roger would ask me, What are you doing? Are you available tonight?' I knew exactly what he was talking about," McNamee said Monday, in the first day of his testimony against his former client and friend. Back then, in 1998, Clemens was pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays, and McNamee was the team's strength and conditioning coach. According to McNamee, the two men went to Clemens' apartment in the Jays' Skydome stadium. "Roger pulled down his pants, exposing his right buttocks cheek to me," McNamee said. A few seconds later, Clemens said he was ready. McNamee said he then "plunged the fluid in, into his buttocks." "That," McNamee said, "was the first time I injected Roger Clemens." McNamee said he didn't feel good about the moment, but he got the sense that Clemens "wasn't good at doing the booty shot.'" That year was the beginning of a decade-long relationship that soured when McNamee, facing legal trouble, told investigators he had injected the seven-time Cy Young Award winner with steroids and HGH. Clemens' denial of those allegations at a 2008 congressional hearing landed him in court, where he faces charges that he lied to Congress. It took a month for prosecutors to get to their key witness: McNamee is the only person who will claim firsthand knowledge of Clemens using performance-enhancing drugs. McNamee also detailed a rushed shot he gave Clemens in a utility closet in the Tampa Bay clubhouse in 1998. "I was hurrying because we had to get out of there," he recalled. "I closed the door and injected him real quick and we left. I kept one foot on the door as I was injecting," to keep anyone from coming in on them. And when McNamee was asked where Clemens had gotten the drugs, he responded: "Don't ask, don't tell. I didn't want to know." Later that season, McNamee claimed, Clemens came to his locker, threw a bag of steroids into it, and said: "Get rid of it. I'm done with it." That was after Clemens had developed an abscess on his buttocks. The two men had developed such a bond -- either because of drugs, as the prosecution says, or because of workouts, as the defense maintains -- that Clemens asked his new team, the New York Yankees, to bring McNamee on board at the beginning of the 1999 season. New York declined, but when Clemens made another plea near the end of the season, the Yankees created a new position for McNamee -- assistant strength and conditioning coach. The salary was only 30,000, McNamee said, but Clemens supplemented that with 50,000 or 60,000. The previous year, Clemens had tipped him 1,000 at the end of spring training, McNamee said. McNamee said he didn't want to be with the Yankees, having already worked for the team as a bullpen catcher and batting practice pitcher in the mid-1990s. "I just wanted to be Roger Clemens' trainer," he said. The bespectacled McNamee, speaking softly in a thick New York accent, often made eye contact with jurors, who paid close attention to him. Clemens, sitting about 20 feet across the courtroom, did as well. McNamee returns to the witness stand on Tuesday. The former pitcher took several pages of notes on a white legal pad. He looked up quickly when McNamee talked about their alleged conversations about performance-enhancing drugs, licking his lips and holding his pen in the air, as if interrupted in the middle of writing something down. Other times, he would tap five fingers on his desk. At the beginning of his testimony, McNamee seemed a bit sad about how things had turned. A prosecutor asked what it was like to work with such an icon. "Just give me a minute," McNamee said in a subdued tone, after a long pause. Then, his pitch shifting up, he said, "It was great working with the best." The two sides spent the morning arguing over which parts of McNamee's personal life may be revealed in front of the jury. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton quashed a Clemens subpoena for McNamee's divorce records. Walton said it was a "fishing expedition" to look for information to disparage McNamee. The judge did rule that Clemens' team could bring up evidence of McNamee's alleged alcohol problems, including two convictions for driving under the influence. Walton also said that if the defense had evidence that McNamee had obtained prescription drugs online without a prescription, that too could be mentioned. But the judge said again that defense lawyers may not mention that McNamee was investigated for an alleged sexual assault over a 2001 incident at a St. Petersburg, Fla., hotel involving a woman who was found to have a date-rape drug in her system. Walton said the defense could refer to it only as a "serious criminal investigation." The defense will be able to say that McNamee lied to investigators during that investigation. Charges were never filed in the case.

Under Center Podcast: Takeaways from Week 1 of OTAs

bears_helmet_usa_today.png
USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Takeaways from Week 1 of OTAs

JJ Stankevitz and Cam Ellis dive into a few interesting developments from OTAs at Halas Hall on Wednesday, including Bradley Sowell’s position change (0:30) and Leonard Floyd’s upside (5:30). Plus, hear from Eddie Jackson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix about how the ‘Bama safety pair came to be re-united in Chicago (12:30). 

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Under Center Podcast

Subscribe:

Bears eye position changes in search for improved depth on offense

5-22bradleysowell.jpg
USA Today

Bears eye position changes in search for improved depth on offense

The Bears will try to address one of their more glaring weaknesses — tight end depth — by giving longtime offensive tackle Bradley Sowell some work at tight end in the coming weeks of practice at Halas Hall. 

Sowell, a reliable backup swing tackle the last two seasons with the Bears, was targeted twice as a receiver in 2018 — first, on a nearly-intercepted Mitch Trubisky pass against the New England Patriots, and second on the famous “Santa’s Sleigh” touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams. He also got some work as a fullback in the Bears’ Week 17 thumping of the Minnesota Vikings. 

“We felt like at the ‘Y’ position we could use some more depth,” coach Matt Nagy said. “It’s something we talked about at the end of the season. We discussed it and now we’re giving him a chance.”

Nagy’s assessment of the Bears’ “Y” (in-line) depth is accurate, if not even undersold. The athletic 6-foot-7, 312 pound Sowell will have a chance to be a backup to Adam Shaheen, who has missed 13 games in his first two years due to a string of injuries. Reserve tight end Ben Braunecker can play both the “Y” and “U” positions, and the Bears have a handful of undrafted free agents (led by Utah State's Dax Raymond) competing to catch the eye of the coaching staff in the coming weeks. 

The Bears’ offense struggled with two tight ends on the field last year, especially in Shaheen’s absence as Dion Sims played himself out of the league. It’s far too early to tell if adding Sowell to the tight end mix will help, but at this point, the Bears think it’s worth a shot. 

“He’s shown it repetitively in practice that he has the athletic ability, the hands, he’s very smart, he knows how to block and all that stuff,” Nagy said. “So let’s test it out and see. When I tell you he’s all-in, he’s all-in.”

Center of Attention

As expected, the Bears indeed will flip James Daniels and Cody Whitehair on the offensive line, with Daniels sliding to center and Whitehair to left guard. 

“We feel comfortable with it, so again, this is the time to test it out and see,” Nagy said. “It’s hard right now because we don’t have pads. So, we’ll get into training camp and see how that goes. But I feel pretty good about it.”

Daniels exclusively played left guard during last year’s regular season, with the Bears opting to hold steady with Whitehair at center for the third consecutive season. Whitehair, though, was drafted as a guard back in 2016 and only moved to center after the last-minute signing of Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton. Daniels, too, starred as a center at Iowa and did get a smattering of preseason snaps there before fully committing to playing guard his rookie year. 

The change is the only planned one on Harry Hiestand’s offensive line, which returns every primary starter from 2018 (Daniels, Whitehair, Charles Leno, Bobby Massie, Kyle Long). Perhaps the most significant change for this group, then, will be losing Sowell as its backup tackle. 

Windy City: Smoke Out?

Taquan Mizzell will work as a wide receiver during OTAs, with the now-former running back trading in No. 33 for No. 11 but facing an uphill battle to make the Bears’ roster. 

Mizzell does have a decent track record as a pass-catcher dating back to his college days at Virginia, but it’ll take a massive effort for the third-year player to crack into a crowded receiver room that already has a competitive battle brewing between Javon Wims, Marvin Hall and a group of undrafted free agents. 

While it’s too early to grant rookie running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. a roster spot, shifting Mizzell out of the picture does appear to create a clearer path for the seventh-round pick to stick with the Bears this fall.