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The NFL was strangely quiet for the longest time, and when commissioner Paul Tagliabue finally took action on Oct. 1 by appointing Philip Heymann as special counsel to investigate the locker room incident and its aftermath, the story stayed alive as a lengthy study was conducted. The investigation culminated in the Heymann Report, a 60-page indictment of the Pats players' behavior and their team's handling of the situation, which was released on Nov. 27. The three players and Pats management were fined. Olson supposedly was vindicated. Vindicated? When she had returned to work in mid-October, she covered the Celtics and Bruins, but reporting on NBA games brought her to courtside at Boston Garden, where she still was jostled and touched and hooted at. The words were graphic. At an exhibition game in Worcester, a man poured a beer on her.
In early December, Sales moved Olson exclusively to the Bruin beat, partly because the hockey press box is located almost at the top of the Garden. On Feb. 4, Kiam, continuing in his buffoon's role, told a joke at a dinner in Stamford, Conn., saying that what Olson and the Iraqi army had in common was that they both had seen Patriot missiles up close. Kiam apologized again. Nothing changed. People spit on her head from the luxury boxes, the only seats in the Garden located above the hockey press box. She started to wear a hat for protection. Someone spray-painted CLASSIC BITCH on the front of her apartment house. Her tires were slashed. The letters continued. She changed her phone number again and again. In Hartford, a group of male fans seated in front of the press box chanted all night at her, asking her to show them her breasts.
"Isn't the thing in America supposed to be that you can be whatever you want to be?" asks Bruin public relations director Heidi Holland. "What do these people tell their daughters? That you can't do it because of idiots like me who are missing a chromosome somewhere?"
On April 25, Olson filed suit in Suffolk (County) Superior Court against the Patriots, Kiam, former general manager Pat Sullivan, former media relations director Jimmy Oldham, Mowatt, Perryman and Timpson. She asked for unspecified monetary damages for sexual harassment, civil-rights violations, intentional infliction of emotional distress and intentional damage to her professional reputation. The Patriots have declined to comment on the situation.
The news now is that Olson is leaving Boston. She will finish covering the NHL playoffs and then she will leave the city, leave the country, go work in a foreign country for another paper owned by Rupert Murdoch, proprietor of the Herald. She probably will not cover sports, but she will be able to walk the streets and answer the phone and sleep. She has to wonder if she ever will cover sports again.
The suit probably will not be heard for two years, maybe three. It is not one of her great worries. She never wanted to sue anybody in the first place. The continual harassment, sparked anew by Kiam's tasteless dinner joke, forced her hand. She never wanted to be especially famous or rich. She wanted only to do a job that she always wanted to hold. Is that a crime? The rage around her is a puzzle. The buzz wherever she goes is a puzzle. What did she do?
"I'm working on a story about you for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED," a reporter says to her.
"Do you have to?" Lisa Olson says, politely refusing to be quoted in the magazine she read as a child.
The whole thing does not end.