- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
McKinney stares at him and says, "I took it because Sam Nassi made me a very attractive offer. At the time I was being interviewed by other teams—Dallas, Detroit and San Diego—but I felt Indiana had the most to offer. It's not Los Angeles, but I thought it was a place my family and I could enjoy."
After the lunch, it becomes apparent that to many people in the audience, what McKinney had to say is not as important as the way he said it. ("Is that how he has always spoken?" people often whisper behind McKinney's back.) The fact is that if you didn't know McKinney had suffered a brain injury, you probably wouldn't give his intonation the slightest thought. But because he had the accident and because he speaks in such a slow, deliberate manner, people are skeptical.
Ron Righter, a player under McKinney at St. Joseph's and now the coach at Wilkes College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. says, "Jack always spoke that way. I think it was the key to his success. He made things clear, understandable, simplified them for guys who were thick."
Claire McKinney reaffirms this. "Jack has always been a slow talker," she says. "That's because he thinks before he has something to say." Adds McKinney, "This is how I always spoke. What's the big deal?"
On the way out of the luncheon, McKinney's companion asks if he's surprised no one quizzed him on his health. His eyebrows jerk upward. "Frankly, yes," he says. "This might be the first time that it hasn't come up. In fact, a few weeks ago a doctor stood up and challenged me. He said, 'How do you know you're not going to have a relapse on the court?' I replied, 'Because, sir, my doctors tell me I won't and I believe them!' "
Despite such waspish replies, McKinney says he isn't bothered that people question his health. "In a way I'm glad they do," he says. "It's something that happened, and it must be faced up to. I underwent a physical examination, and I have a clean bill of health. I know a lot of people will not understand what happened to me. They'll think I'm nuts or something. But that's fair. All I know is I feel good. I feel I'm back to 99% of what I was." He smiles boyishly. "Hey, if I got back to 100%, maybe I'd be too perfect."
He laughs, ducks into the car and heads back to Indianapolis, where in a few hours he will be meeting his wife for dinner.
Claire McKinney is an attractive woman, cordial, quick to laugh. While reading the overwritten menu, she turns to Jack and says, "How about the Colorado mountain trout with the California grapes?"
McKinney scrunches up his nose. "No way," he says.
"Why? You like trout."