The writer of the piece, Mike McAlary, a respected cityside reporter and columnist, went on to say that two shotguns reportedly had been delivered to Tyson in Catskill, presumably for the murder-suicide (why two shotguns?), and that Tyson has a chemical imbalance that drives him to violent behavior, including wife beating. McAlary wrote that the only people genuinely concerned with Tyson's welfare—call them the good guys—are billionaire builder and nouveau fight promoter Donald Trump, lawyers Peter Parcher and Steven Hayes, and publicist Howard Rubenstein. And, of course, Givens and her mother, Ruth Roper. On the other side were manager Bill Cay ton and trainer Kevin Rooney—the bad guys—who, wrote McAlary, "were trying to save a meal ticket."
The story made for juicy reading, but there was a problem: It was a plant, and an artless, bubbleheaded one at that. "Suicide?" says Lance Dunning, the salesman at Keeler Motor Car Co. in Latham, N.Y., who sold Tyson the BMW. "That car is equipped with an air bag on the driver's side and Mike knew it. We discussed it." (The bags are designed to activate themselves in collisions more violent than the one Tyson had with the tree.)
In his piece McAlary referred to his sources as "these people," "friends [of Tyson's]" or "camp sources." The "friends" apparently talked the most—McAlary cited them five times. When he wrote a similar story two days later, he added "visitors" to his list of sources.
McAlary never quoted Cayton or Rooney. In fact, the only person he quoted directly was Dr. Henry L. McCurtis, a New York City psychiatrist hired last week by Roper and Givens to treat Tyson for something called "athletic stress." McCurtis's words were truly enlightening: "I don't talk about people who are or are not my patients."
McAlary told SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Rich O'Brien that the Daily News story "doesn't say this was a real suicide attempt. It says it was a cry for help." That's true. The charge was leveled only in the headline on page one, which declared: TYSON TRIED TO KILL SELF. Said McAlary, "You have to trust your sources. I do. And the paper trusts me. I checked it out just like any other story. I have no doubt. Absolutely none. I'd do the whole thing again tomorrow. And so would the paper."
What about those sources, which McAlary refused to identify in any precise way? One of McAlary's best friends is Edward Hayes, a lawyer and literary agent who helped McAlary negotiate his contract with the Daily News last May. Hayes is the brother of Steven Hayes, one of the attorneys Trump recommended to Givens and Roper when Good Samaritan Donald stepped in to help Tyson in his contractual dispute with Cayton last spring.
"The people with knowledge of Tyson's problems include Donald Trump and public relations man Howard Rubenstein," wrote McAlary, neglecting to mention that Rubenstein is Trump's p.r. man. " Tyson's lawyers—Peter Parcher and Steven Hayes—also understand the situation. But none of these four will discuss the champion's problems. They are more interested in the fighter's future than his next fight."
Historically the heavyweight champion of the world is the most sought-after sports prize for those who would like to make a buck off the efforts of a star athlete. Should Tyson continue to fight for, say, another five years, his purses should exceed $100 million. Let him retire, and then we'll find out how interested in his future that foursome really is.
According to Edward Hayes, McAlary called him on the night of Sept. 5 and said, "I've got this great story." McAlary told Hayes about the attempted suicide but, says Hayes, didn't divulge the sources for the story. Hayes, the model for Tommy Killian, the fast-talking, streetwise defense lawyer in Tom Wolfe's best-seller The Bonfire of the Vanities, says he told McAlary, "I don't know anything about this. I can't say anything." McAlary, according to Hayes, then asked if he should call Hayes's brother, Steven, and tell him. Eddie says he replied. "Yeah. You better call him. He'll have a heart attack."
"That's all I did," Eddie insists. "I never did another——ing thing. Everybody says the Hayes brothers did this. I swear to you on my mother's eyes that I wasn't the source. My brother didn't do it. I think McAlary has a Brooklyn guy [as the source]."