A new low in Larry Nassar fallout, if that’s even possible, and other thoughts
A few things I care about . . .
■ The ongoing fallout from serial sex abuser Larry Nassar feels as if it will never hit bottom. Among the latest wave of lawsuits filed against Michigan State before a deadline cut them off was the stunning, disgusting, devastating claim by former field hockey player Erika Davis that Nassar drugged, raped, and impregnated her.
According to the outstanding reporting that continues to come out of the Detroit area, this time in a story in the Lansing State Journal, Davis said she told her then-coach Martha Ludwig about the assault, which she said Nassar, then a student in MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, captured on videotape. But, she claims, then-MSU athletic director George Perles intervened in the investigation and the complaint was dropped.
Imagine if someone had done the right thing back then and Nassar had been stopped. If the methods of cultivation and abuse he was figuring out back then hadn’t had the time to evolve into the ones that victimized literally hundreds of athletes for the next three decades. If someone in power had protected the vulnerable over the powerful, the individual over the institution.
And no matter what the impotent, useless, ineffective arm of the NCAA says, it further implicates Michigan State as a co-conspirator to the abuse. Too busy punishing athletes for wearing the wrong shoes or signing the wrong autograph, the NCAA cleared MSU of any wrongdoing in how it responded to the accusations against Nassar (as well as incidents involving the football and men’s basketball programs).
Davis’s claim, if true, has to change that conclusion. But don’t bet on it. Perles, who resigned as AD in 1992, is a current university trustee.
■ So now tennis officials reportedly are considering a boycott of Serena Williams’s matches unless she apologizes to umpire Carlos Ramos for the argument that cost her a game in last weekend’s US Open final. Please.
As much heat as Williams has taken for calling Ramos a “thief” (and readers, you’ve made it clear you blame her far more than you do him), this would be an all-time new level of double standard.
Let me know when someone finds the apology needed from John McEnroe, or Jimmy Connors, or Ilie Nastase, or Andre Agassi, or Roger Federer, or Nick Krygios, or Lleyton Hewitt, or Novak Djokovic, or Rafael Nadal, all of whom have had ugly, personal run-ins with officials.
Just two years ago, Andy Murray was foul-mouthed and combative during a shocking five-set US Open loss to Kei Nishikori, angry at everything from the faulty PA system to the umpire. The first line of a Daily Telegraph column about him the next day: “A big part of why Andy Murray holds such appeal is his rawness.”
A demand for apology did not follow. Nor should it now. Williams was raw. She was wrong. But so was Ramos. Move on.
■ Kudos to the Red Sox for 100 wins. But can’t help thinking it’s middle relief that will determine whether they’re the ’98 Yankees or ’01 Mariners.
■ Most predictable touchdown last Sunday? The Patriots just before halftime against Houston. Who didn’t know they were going to score? Tom Brady’s two-minute ability and Bill Belichick’s situational awareness are absolutely peerless.
■ Favorite tough guy moment of the month goes to the Seattle Storm’s Sue Bird, who helped her team to a WNBA title Wednesday night, playing with a protective mask over a broken nose sustained earlier in the game. Bird shrugged off the injury as just another in the countless broken noses she’s had in a 16-year pro career, raining threes in a finals-clinching win over Phoenix, scoring 14 points in the final six minutes.
As the league’s oldest player at 37, the two-time champ has flourished with this otherwise young team, a self-described “mother hen” for emerging stars such as league MVP Breanna Stewart. That’s a tough one to swallow here, considering I covered Bird in high school, when she transferred from the public school Syosset on Long Island to play for NYC powerhouse Christ the King, her earliest steps toward a UConn scholarship and No. 1 overall WNBA draft selection.
■ Count me in: The Limerick Leader newspaper of Ireland reports that the reigning All Ireland hurling champion team from Limerick will play in the third Fenway Hurling Classic Nov. 18 in Fenway Park. I happened to be in Ireland when Limerick held on for a heart-stopping win over Galway, and loved how my mother’s home city reveled in the county’s first win since 1973.
■ New NFL coaches went a combined 0-7 in Week 1? I know this job isn’t easy, but not a win among them? Lots of antsy owners out there.
Matt Patricia’s hideous 48-17 home loss to the Jets was the worst showing of all, and the tweet of the night went to my old colleague Dave Lennon of Newsday: “Roger Goodell is going to be wearing a T-shirt tomorrow with Matt Patricia sporting a clown nose.”
■ Hard not to pause Tuesday and remember 9/11 — where we were, whom we lost, how we changed, what a strong role sports played in holding us together in the aftermath.
For me, the lasting memory is a 29-hour drive home from Denver, where the previous night I’d covered my first game on the Giants beat. Stranded the next morning as airports across the nation closed, I joined colleagues Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, Neil Best of Newsday, and Kim Jones, then of the Newark Star Ledger and now of the NFL Network, to drive east.
We were so oddly disconnected from real-time events, yet so connected to our hometowns as well. I remember Kim taking the first shift and driving for nearly 10 hours, recall Neil reciting the roster of the ’69 Mets to keep himself awake, remember Paul taking the last leg alone to return the car at LaGuardia airport (dropping the three of us in Newark).
And I remember so many grateful yet heartbroken tears as I pulled into my driveway, a day late to celebrate my son’s 11th birthday.
■ Book notes from a book nerd: I can’t wait to read Ian O’Connor’s upcoming “Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time” and just ordered Jeff Pearlman’s “Football for a Buck, The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL.”
But one lesser-known gem comes from former New York Daily Newser Hank Gola, called “City of Champions,” detailing how a small high school team from Garfield, N.J. (home of former NFLers Wayne Chrebet and Miles Austin) won a national championship between the shadows of two world wars. Gola also includes the great 1939 Brockton High School team.