When Odubel Herrera was arrested last week after a domestic-violence incident in Atlantic City, I had a flashback to June 22, 2006, one of the darkest days in Phillies history. Two years before a pitcher named Brett Myers paraded down Broad Street with his championship teammates, he was hundreds of miles away on a different street under far more sobering circumstances.
It was Boylston Street in Boston, where witnesses saw him strike his wife Kim on the left side of the face during a dispute. Courtney Knight, a witness to the June 22 altercation, told the Boston Globe: “He was dragging her by the hair and slapping her across the face. She was yelling, ‘I’m not going to let you do this to me anymore.’”
When police responded to the 911 call, they found the victim in tears, her face swollen. They arrested Myers for assault and battery, charges that were later dropped when Kim Myers refused to press charges.
In the euphoria of the Phillies’ championship in 2008, most fans were more interested in the pitcher’s playoff heroics than in that ugly Boston incident two years earlier. I was not. To me, Myers became the symbol of a recurrent theme in sports that I had conveniently avoided for my first two decades as a sports-talk host at SportsRadio 94WIP radio. From June 22, 2006, to today, I have assailed every domestic abuser (and alleged domestic abuser) in sports, often at the expense of alienating my mostly male audience.
The issue has become an obsession with me for a very basic reason. I talk for four hours every day about the physical superiority of the extraordinary athletes who represent our city, and it would be hypocritical to ignore the occasions when those same athletes used their gifts to intimidate and injure. For too many years, I chose the safest path. No more.
When I lambasted former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy for an alleged incident in Atlanta last year, I faced verbal abuse on social media and in my own email account that was startling. Every time I attack the still-beloved former Eagles coach Andy Reid, who has somehow remained above the fray despite harboring accused domestic abusers Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill in Kansas City, the backlash is frightening.
The message from the fans is clear. Stay in your lane. Talk sports. Who are you to address with such fervor the serious topic of domestic abuse?
Unfortunately, I now feel qualified to do so. Brett Myers started my education when he wriggled away from responsibility for what happened in Boston. I learned that his wife’s reaction was not uncommon. When tempers cool, the victim often refuses to pursue the case. That was her decision. It doesn’t have to be mine.
What many fans conveniently ignored in 2006 was that the Phillies allowed Myers to pitch the day after that incident, a horrific decision. Two years later, he was a hero, a champion, awash in cheers. I have learned in the 13 intervening years that fans have a very selective memory when it comes to incidents like that night in Boston. They are conditioned to look the other way. I won’t. To me, that one moment defined him, and it always will.
If Odubel Herrera is found guilty of the attack last week in Atlantic City, I will express my disgust toward him at every opportunity. He will never receive another kind word from me, on or off the air. I would prefer that he leave Philadelphia, as soon as possible.
It took me far too long to learn that the human race is more important than the pennant race.
When players act out like this, we should never forget.
We must never forget.