Josh Fields knew the Sports Illustrated reports were coming. And like most with associations to the Oklahoma State football program, Fields was anxious to see the names involved.
Then he saw a name that numbed him: his own.
“Seeing my name was a shock. I saw my name and my body temperature rose for a couple hours,” Fields said, “then I calmed down.”
The former Cowboys quarterback calmed, yet only enough to assist his offensive in painting a much different behind-the-scenes picture on OSU – and those used as sources – than Sports Illustrated portrayed in the first part of its exposé on the Cowboys, “The Dirty Game.”
His first edit: refuting claims by unnamed former players that he received money as a performance bonus.
“Honestly, it's not a laughing matter, but I couldn't do anything but chuckle to myself,” Fields said. “The guys who were at Oklahoma State, the guys that I associated with – and I regret to say that I didn't really hang out with many of those guys who had something to say — they know the truth.
“When you work so hard at doing things the right way and you really pride yourself on doing things right, and I know that Oklahoma State as a university prides itself on doing things the right way, it stings a little bit.”
Across the country Tuesday, former Cowboys lined up on social media and in various interviews, defending their university, and in some cases, their honor.
“Honestly, I'm disgusted,” said Corey Curtis, an offensive lineman at OSU from 2002-04. “When I read the article today and I found out who the sources were, it's unbelievable that somebody from Sports Illustrated could count these as credible witnesses.
“I mean, William Bell, who was in the video (online at SI.com) probably the longest out of any of those guys, barely was on scout team.”
The strong words kept coming from players from that era, including some of those named in the report.
Former quarterback Aso Pogi, who was a source in the story and allegedly lived rent-free at the ranch of regional Fellowship of Christian Athletes director John Talley, said on The Sports Talk Network that he was “misquoted” and “misinterpreted” in the story and denied ever receiving payments or knowing of teammates receiving compensation. Former running back Tatum Bell, who is accused of receiving bonus payments and bragging about it to teammates, denied the allegations on WWLS The Sports Animal and said Sports Illustrated never contacted him for comment (the report says Bell denied allegations to the magazine).
And others, such as former Cowboy offensive lineman and current Detroit Lion Corey Hilliard, defended their teammates.
“You've got to understand, I played with Rashaun (Woods) and Josh Fields,” he said. “So if anybody would've got paid, it would've been those guys. Tatum, never saw anything in his locker. never saw anything in (Darrent Williams') locker. And I had to walk by all those guys' locker to get to mine. I think I would've noticed envelopes in certain guys' lockers.