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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Opinion

Point, counterpoint: Should Jerry Remy stop doing Red Sox broadcasts?

Jerry Remy (left)  in the NESN booth in Ft. Myers, Fla., last month.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Jerry Remy (left) in the NESN booth in Ft. Myers, Fla., last month.

No, he didn’t do anything wrong

By Alex Beam

I don’t know Jerry Remy. He and I don’t seem like the kind of men who would be friends. I never watch more than two innings of a Red Sox broadcast — it bores me — and I’ve never been to one of Remy’s restaurants. I’m not planning to go any time soon.

So now Jerry Remy has been caught in the jaws of the media-fueled Outrage Machine. His son Jared Remy, a clearly disturbed, steroid-fueled 35-year-old miscreant, is sitting in jail, accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death in cold blood last August. A lengthy and well-documented Globe story persuasively argues that Jared should have been locked up years ago for other assaults against women.

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Cue the calls for Jerry Remy’s head. The Red Sox, who own 80 percent of their TV broadcast channel NESN, must fire Remy, the thinking goes. (Red Sox principal owner John Henry also owns the Globe.) “It’s Time for Jerry Remy to Resign from NESN,” argues BostonInno blogger Alex Reimer. The brave, anonymous blogger “Obnoxious Sports Fan” argues that NESN viewers “unknowingly helped to finance Jared Remy’s way of life for years” by financing Jerry Remy’s salary in the announcer’s booth. The easily kindled Twitter-verse is aflame.

Jared Remy’s crimes have been a matter of record for some time. But what did his father Jerry Remy do? According to Globe reporter Eric Moskowitz’s lengthy investigation, the father was well aware 18 years ago, when Jared was still in high school, that his son might threaten others: “On Jan. 25, 1996, Jerry Remy called Weston police worried that his now 17-year-old son was still harassing [a former girlfriend], that Jared had made some troubling phone calls and shoved her at least once … Jerry Remy asked police to help his son ‘understand the seriousness of his actions,’ according to a Weston police report.”

Jared Remy would go on to have many serious encounters with the law. But there is no evidence that his father used undue influence to get Jared special treatment. In one instance, a friend of Jared’s allegedly chose not to implicate him in a beating. In two instances, women declined to press charges against Jared. In another alleged assault case, the victim declined to testify. Yes, it seems clear that Jerry Remy paid for Jared’s excellent legal defense. Just as you or I would probably do in similar circumstances.

I understand that when most people read the story of Jerry and Jared, they see an entitled, well-off sports celebrity gaming the legal system on behalf of his wild and dangerous son. I see something different: a complicated, confusing morass, of biblical pain inflicted on a family that wants to balance its love for a disturbed child against society’s legitimate expectations of personal safety.

Jared is in jail, where he belongs. I’m sure his father and his family are living in a special kind of hell. If the sins of the son are visited on the father, well, that’s not what I call justice.

Yes, he enabled his criminal son

By Alan Wirzbicki

Do we need our sports figures to be model citizens? Should it matter to NESN that Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy repeatedly coddled and enabled his criminal son, Jared Remy, through the younger Remy’s years of abuse and mayhem — a career that culminated in the alleged brutal slaying last year of Jared Remy’s girlfriend, Jennifer Martel?

People will come to their own conclusions about what Jerry Remy could or should have done differently in raising a troubled child, and then standing by a troubled adult. But enough Sox fans are going to be disgusted at the sound of Remy’s voice that if NESN doesn’t fire him, Remy should step down himself.

As detailed in Eric Moskowitz’s exhaustive chronicle of Jared Remy’s brushes with the law, Jerry and Phoebe Remy repeatedly chose to protect their son from the consequences of his actions. They bailed him out. They continued to pay Jared’s legal bills well into adulthood.

Defenders of Jerry Remy argue that the beloved broadcaster shouldn’t be blamed for the deeds of his son. Nobody thinks he should; obviously, only Jared Remy should face punishment for any of his crimes. But hiring a high-priced lawyer, and valuing their son’s freedom above the safety of others — those were the elder Remys’ decisions, and they all added up to a climate of impunity.

And if Jerry Remy sold used cars, then maybe none of it would matter. The questionable decisions an employee makes with his own paycheck are usually his own business.

But Jerry Remy doesn’t sell used cars. His job is to be a particular TV persona — the gentle, chuckling color commentator on Sox games. Playing that role has made him popular. But now that’s not an image that he can project without turning New England’s collective stomach.

Alex Beam’s column appears regularly in the Globe. He can be reached at alexbeam@hotmail.com. Alan Wirzbicki can be reached at awirzbicki@globe.com.
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