Posted: Tuesday November 14, 2006 1:12PM; Updated: Wednesday November 15, 2006 8:30AM
The 44-year-old Clemens credits McNamee with helping him succeed in the major leagues despite his advanced age as a player. This photo is from a February 2006 workout.
His business was his business. But now his business is everyone's business. Except, by his account, the stories so far have painted the wrong picture.
McNamee is one of those old-school people who believes to his core the sign on the clubhouse door that says, "What happens in here, stays in here." But he's been around. He knows what goes on and he takes a realistic approach to steroids. He knew they were becoming bigger in baseball, so he read up on them. He is a quick study and he educated all the players under his purview about steroids. But he said he never procured them, and he never advocated them.
"I don't have any dealings with steroids or amphetamines," McNamee said. "I didn't buy it, sell it, condone it or recommend it. I don't make money from it, it's not part of my livelihood and not part of my business."
History with Grimsley
As a person who knew Grimsley casually, McNamee was following the sordid tale with interest, including the news that IRS investigators had confronted Grimsley after he received a package containing two kits of human grown hormone at his home in Arizona. Then McNamee's name appeared in the Times story, and he says he began racking his brain to figure out how his name could be connected to Grimsley's.
"I have no idea why I'd be mentioned in the same breath with Grimsley, other than that he was a relief pitcher on a team with Clemens and Pettitte," McNamee said. "I barely even knew Grimsley."
McNamee started working with Clemens in 1997, after the pitcher joined the Toronto Blue Jays, with whom McNamee was a strength and conditioning coach. Clemens won two Cy Young awards with Toronto before being traded to the Yankees in 1999. McNamee went with him. Clemens, Pettitte and Grimsley were teammates for two seasons with the Yankees, who listed McNamee as a strength and conditioning coach in 2000, but didn't renew his contract in 2002.
In recollecting his dealings with Grimsley, McNamee says all he can come up with are two conversations, neither of which he recalls involving amphetamines nor anything stronger. On one occasion he says Grimsley requested the contact sheet for the Blue Jays, and McNamee thought nothing of it beyond that Grimsley had a friend on Toronto he wanted to get in touch with. "There was no inkling of trying to get amphetamines from anybody," McNamee said.
Another time McNamee recalls Grimsley requesting a drug to help his wife lose weight after having a baby. McNamee said he believes he recommended a Metrex product, Thermacor, which is a fat burner.
McNamee pleads guilty to knowing the ins and out of steroids, but says, "I had no involvement as far as supplying it, getting it, telling 'em to use it. I just educate them. The good, the bad and the ugly of using the drugs. I had to educate myself because there was more and more concern in baseball. I just adjusted to the times."
He said the bulk of the advice he gives relates to nutrition and multivitamins. "I'm not a witchcraft kind of guy," McNamee said. "There is no legal magic bullet other than hard work, sound nutrition and rest."
'Hit by a train'
Rick Down, the Mets' hitting coach who worked with McNamee with the Yankees, thinks his friend is getting railroaded. "It's like he's been hit by a train and he's left to pick up the pieces." As for the allegations, Down said, "[Brian's] aware of all that stuff. Does he supply them? I've never heard a word that he does. We are close. If he was involved, I would have heard something."
The McNamee that Down knows is a solid family man from a down-to-earth working class neighborhood, Breezy Point, Queens, where just about everyone else works as a fireman or cop. McNamee himself was an undercover police officer for 3 1/2 years with an amazing record for making arrests and who gathered citations for excellence.