Texas Christian head coach Gary Patterson prepares to lead his team onto the field against Stanford in the Valero Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, on December 28, 2017. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)
Photo: Rodger Mallison/TNS
Photo: Rodger Mallison/TNS

Gary Patterson needs to defend himself


 Both you, your school and your program are being sued, now by multiple plaintiffs, and your character is going down a path that will end in a courtroom. 

 People in Fort Worth, and certainly at TCU, are going to believe the head football coach (provided he wins games), but the lawsuit filed by former Horned Frogs player Kolby Listenbee, with the help of his new “friends,” needs a response beyond a bland press release. 

 Of course, the lawyers are going to tell you and the school administration not to say a thing. 

 The lawyers at Baylor University told Ken Starr, Art Briles and the rest of their buddies to say nothing, too. That worked out well. 

 The lawyers work for you, because they are cashing your TCU-issued checks. 

 Anyone who knows GP at all knows it is killing him not to say anything. 

 There is a way to be visible and accountable without saying anything incriminating, or violating any privacy law. There is a brand to protect, an image to maintain, and a perception to mold. 

 Currently all of those are under attack, even if the attacker is a former player praying to score an easy check because his pro career went bust. 

 Gary is not talking, and repeated attempts for an interview have been ignored, or rejected. 

 He even went so far as to cancel his annual Signing Day press conference because he had a “root canal” scheduled. 

 TCU has lucked out in that after news broke of the initial lawsuit, no major national outlet has pursued this story. 

 For TCU staffers who are handling this case, it has turned into the equivalent of a root canal, only not quite as fun. There is no Novocain. 

 Added to the original Listenbee airing of the grievances against GP, TCU and the Big 12 are accounts of various allegations from former players Lonta Hobbs, Ed Wesley, David Johnson, Stansly Maponga and Cameron White. 

 Essentially, they all are saying the same thing as Listenbee — Patterson and TCU cultivated an atmosphere of intimidation, and bullied players, and trainers, to return from injury or they would lose their spot on the depth chart. 

 An assertion or two from the fresh complaints sound plausible, but they still sound more like football. Football everywhere. Why not just sue the sport? 

 Funny Wesley’s name would come up. 

 The new additions to the lawsuit specifically bring up his concussion that he might have suffered in a game at SMU in 2010. Gary’s sideline behavior that night towards team trainers was bad, and he and then team Dr. Sam Haraldson exchanged heated words. 

 The two later apologized for the incident. Team physicians told me later they thought Haraldson was out line. Team trainers also were not happy with Gary’s language towards them during that game. 

 Out of paranoia, and because he could, GP never made Wesley available to the media to discuss anything — until GP didn’t have a choice. 

 At the Rose Bowl media day in 2010, all players had to be available. Because I’m a terrible person, Wesley is the first person I pursued. 

 In that interview Wesley said, “All that happened was I got hit on the previous play, I was on the ground. But the play when I came out is when I jumped over a guy and I didn’t hit my head, but I hit my shoulder. It was a stinger and I came off the field. They made it seem like I had a concussion; I didn’t have a concussion. I don’t even know what a concussion feels like.” 

 He continued, “The doctor was like, ‘You hit your head twice, so let’s check you out to make sure you don’t have a concussion.’ When that stuff came out, I just didn’t want anybody to get in trouble. Things got misconstrued.” 

 So which is it? No big deal, or a lawsuit? 

 Much like Listenbee’s glowing words to a TCU reporter about GP and the medical staff before the NFL combine in 2016, Wesley’s words are not a good look for a plaintiff. 

 Wesley contemplated leaving TCU early for the NFL, and eventually never made it in the league. He did get a few looks. 

 Then TCU AD Chris Del Conte set it up so Wesley could return to TCU to finish his degree, but the former running back never quite completed it. 

 Of the other new plaintiffs, Maponga is a guy who clashed with Patterson from Day 1. GP went so far as to name drills after Maponga for players who were essentially mailing it in. 

 Maponga is another case of a talented guy who struggled with school, left early in the NFL, and never really made it. He played for three years, and bounced from teams to practice squads. He appeared in 24 NFL games, and last played in the league in 2015. 

 Of the new allegations, the one with the most believable claims come from former receiver David White. White says he was pressured, and cleared, to return to play despite suffering a concussion. He said he thinks Patterson pressures team doctors to put players back in. 

 The part of Gary over-ruling a team physician I don’t believe. He is aggressive, but he’s not that dumb. 

 As far as blowing a concussion diagnosis, that I believe. Concussions are missed in every quarter of every game. 

 As far as implied pressure on players to play through pain or injury, that’s the truth. Because every coach does starting in high school. Because that’s football. 

 As far as what Gary thinks about all of this? 

 Who knows? He’s not talking. 

 He should. His character and his program are headed to trial.

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