I know we’re all tired of Sports Illustrated’s OSU project. But here’s what I’m most tired of regarding the five-part series: the former Cowboys who now are backtracking. The former Cowboys who made hundreds of claims against OSU but now claim they were misled or tricked or misquoted or whatever.
I have no idea what’s true and what’s not – other than boosters paying players $800 after 39-point defeats; that I don’t buy – but these guys who say their words were taken out of context, or they thought the story was about something else, well, that’s all beside the point.
Did OSU pay you money for performance? Did OSU arrange for others to do your academic work? Did OSU endorse a drug culture around the football program? That’s what’s alleged. Did it happen? That’s all I care about now.
The latest ex-Cowboy to backpedal and try to make nice is Brad Girtman, who released this statement:
“This statement is written in regards to the Sports Illustrated article titled The Dirty Game, in which multiple former Oklahoma State football players, including myself Brad Girtman, were directly quoted. My intentions are to clarify that Thayer Evans used both my name and words to fabricate a series of articles into a story he believed would gain attention and sell.
“It was my understanding that this article would be written to tell the story of top recruits who did not make it into the NFL, and where they were today. Thayer Evans asked me to share my story with him, and I did. However, some of the things that were published were taken out of context and used to direct a nationwide problem, at a specific university. My only intention when I spoke to Thayer Evans was to inform and educate young top college football recruits of the temptations that accompany this spotlight but are rarely addressed and the consequences that can follow. My words were in no way intended to reflect Oklahoma State in such a direct manner.
“I was and always will be very proud to have played football at Oklahoma State University, and never meant for this article to represent OSU in a negative way.”
You’ve got to be kidding me. Girtman says he never meant to represent OSU in a negative way.
Here’s what Sports Illustrated reported Girtman said:
* He saw an OSU staffer hand Darrent Williams an envelope packed with bills after a 2003 win over Kansas State.
* The most Girtman ever got paid was $500. “I was getting paid on the low end,” Girtman said. “Some of those guys got monster payments.”
* That pay scale for performance? That came from Girtman: $50 for a quarterback hurry, $75 to $100 for a tackle, $200 to $250 for a sack. Girtman says those rates were told to him by Joe DeForest. “Your stats definitely dictated how much you were getting,” Girtman said.
* Girtman says that upon getting to OSU, DeForest handed him a debit card with $5,000 on it, which was periodically refilled.
* Girtman says John Talley paid him $1,500 to $2,000 every two weeks during one summer to work on his horse ranch, far more than the job was worth.
* Girtman said he and many other players had school work done for them or received other improper academic assistance. “Are you kidding me? I didn’t go there to go to school,” says Girtman. “I went there to play football.”
* Says that he was in the Weed Circle in 2003-04 school year, he never reduced his marijuana use and he tested with elevated levels and suffered no penalties.
OK, enough of these statements about twisted words and context. Here’s what we want to know from Brad Girtman. Did Joe DeForest hand you a $5,000 debit card? Were you paid for sacks and quarterback hurries. Did John Talley pay you for work not performed? Did OSU facilitate someone else doing your school work?
Those are the questions. Not how did Thayer Evans present himself when he approached you. Not what he told you the story was about.
One of two things happened with Brad Girtman:
1. He told Thayer Evans everything he could remember, all the dirt Girtman experienced, and now that the wrath of OSU is falling upon, he’s trying to squirm out of it.
2. He found someone from the media interested in talking to him for the first time in years, got caught up in the moment and started embellishing stories, because he found a willing audience. Didn’t think of the consequences if his accusations came to light, and now he knows he went too far and is trying to squirm out of it.
The common denominator is the squirming.
Either Girtman told Evans those things or Girtman didn’t. It’s one or the other. If Girtman told him those things, then Girtman should pipe down. If Girtman didn’t tell him those things, then Girtman shouldn’t be using phrases like “taken out of context” and “my only intention.”
Frankly, I don’t care what Girtman’s intentions or Evans’ intentions were, and neither should OSU. Did Joe DeForest pay Brad Girtman? Were boosters handing over money? The rest is just details.