This is the time of year to be frothing over draft picks, collegiate breakthroughs, obsessing over the history of first round busts. In other words, a time of year only for the rabid fan, which makes up a small percentage of the people who go to games, watch on TV, buy posters for their kids with favorite players on them.
All the rest of those fans essentially tune out this time of year, except to play their picks in the football bracket, and make plans for the Super Bowl party. Other than that, there is no football, there are no St Louis Rams. Not really. But they feed on the growing energy of the die-hards around them, and allow the potential for optimism for the coming year to seep in through the permafrost of a bad, bad year.
Until something like this breaks:
Reading the police statements, the hand-written testimony of Supriya Harris (the mother of Jackson's child) and from her mother, a couple of things strike me.
- It's believable
- It's in no way provable
- It happened when? Nine months ago?
The timing of all these events is somewhat curious, but starts to add up when you look at them in context of the football season, one of the most trying of Jackson's career.
January, 2009: The Rams' season is over, players head back home, and the coaching purge begins in earnest.
January 27, 2009: The Rams hire Syvester Croom as running backs coach, and Rock Gullickson as strength and conditioning coach.
March 2009: Offseason workout programs typically begin. Jackson and Gullickson begin working together on a much more intense offseason conditioning program than Jackson has ever done before.
March 8 2009: Jackson allegedly handles his pregnant girlfriend rather roughly, throwing her to the floor and yelling at her. She cuts her hip. She goes to the hospital but does not tell the doctor about any domestic abuse. Bruises would be noticeable, and were there obvious evidence of abuse, police would have been notified, but they were not. She is treated and released in two hours.
Updated: TMZ posts what it says is a picture of Harris' scar from the wound -- taken well after the incident. (A leaked hospital report, violating doctor-patient confidentiality, is sure to come next.)
March 17 2009: Jackson's and Harris's baby is born.
April 1, 2009: Jackson attends the Rams' voluntary 3-day minicamp, a week prior to the draft. It is the first organized team activity under new the coaching staff headed by Spagnuolo, who talks about the importance of the Four Pillars.
April - July, 2009: Jackson continues working out with a maniacal focus on being ready for the season. Jackson also launches the "In The Life" series of self-documentary interviews on his website, where he talks about the importance of growing up, of leadership, of commitment.
July 2009: According to Harris' statement to police, she and Jackson have a blowout argument while attending a music festival in New Orleans (The Essence Festival on July 3-4?).
She leaves him, taking their son. A custody/child support case follows.
July 30-31, 2009: Rams Training Camp opens, and the work of the season begins. Jackson is with the team nonstop from this point until the bye week, which he spends in Las Vegas.
December 29, 2009: Steven Jackson is named to the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2006.
January 2, 2010: Jackson, who has posted 3,500 tweets on his twitter account, posts a thank you to fans. And has not posted since.
Jan 21, 2009: Jackson announces that he will not play in the Pro Bowl, giving the spot to first alternate Frank Gore.
Presumably, in the long weeks since the Rams' season ended, a child support court case could be brought and pursued, and his testimony finally sought. Indeed, this is absolutely the most critical aspect of the timing of this story.
Now here we are four weeks later, that case is still open, and presumably not going the way Harris or her lawyer feels it should. So she travels to Las Vegas to file a criminal charge against Jackson for the March incident.
Because there is no physical evidence left, and only word of mouth from necessarily conflicted family members to go by, there is a lot of doubt that this criminal charge will result in an arrest of any kind. But the very filing of the charge is a damaging pubic matter. And the story that she and her mother tell is raw enough and detailed enough to have the ring of the truth. But then again, they have had nine months to prepare this story.
Ultimately, this will end as a civil matter, in a settlement, and we will never know "the whole truth." It comes down to what you believe, who you want to believe.
Updated: Spagnuolo released a statement to the media regarding the situation.
But I know this, regardless of whether Steven Jackson did anything wrong, he and the Rams now have a whole new horde of haters in St Louis to contend with. I also know that there will be fans that blindly defend Jackson and the team against those haters.