There is a scene in the 2003 movie “The Recruit” where Al Pacino, playing a CIA veteran, explains to a group of CIA candidates that they should not be there for recognition because it is only their failures that anyone will remember.
Welcome to the world of anyone working behind the scenes with a professional sports franchise. Welcome to the world of Brian McNamee, the man who claims to have injected Roger Clemens with steroids and may have the smoking gun –or dirty needles in this case—to prove it.
As a trainer, McNamee’s job was to help players get bigger, stronger, faster and more durable and that’s exactly what he did, particularly with Clemens. And his reward for the work that he did came in the form of his player’s accolades – like The Rocket’s Cy Young Awards.
Occasionally, Clemens would talk about his legendary workout routine and credit McNamee with being the reason he has had so much success so late in his career. But even then, the trainer could walk through the Bronx and no one would be able to tell him apart from your average bleacher bum.
And that was just fine. His job was to stay under the radar. Because it would be good for no one if he became a celebrity.
But he had to start getting nervous when steroid use became a major topic in the world of sports, when fingers were starting to get pointed and the word asterisk was being used in baseball for the first time since Roger Maris broke the single season homerun record.
Just in case, he needed an out. So he saved needles, vials and a bloody gauze pad because he knew that if Clemens name was ever brought into the discussion, the Rocket would do anything to save his reputation, even if it meant throwing the guy no one knew under the bus.
And he was right on the money, because Clemens has done everything possible to damage his former trainer’s name.
The name of the game now is to destroy McNamee’s character.
But in the end, it will be those needles, the same ones that helped Clemens save his career, that save McNamee’s reputation.