Today the Watch Tower focuses its light firmly on ESPN’s Outside the Lines report on the Steelers Security Chief Mr. Kearney.
To read the The Watch Tower analysis of ESPN’s Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada’s piece either click on a critique of a specific element of their story, or scroll down to read it all:
OTL Attempts to Peer Behind the Steel Curtain
The Pittsburgh Steelers work hard to maintain an image of integrity. And while the Steelers don’t deserve the saintly status that many fans (including this site at times) seek to confer on them, they do run one of the cleaner shops in the NFL.
- An ESPN Outside the Lines Report on Steelers Security Chief Jack Kearney will challenge that notion.
The full report will not air until Sunday January 25, but ESPN released a detailed teaser on ESPN.com. If the teaser is any indication, this promises to be an interesting piece of journalism.
Steelers Nation Meet Steelers Security Chief Jack Kearney
The Steelers list approximately 75 non-football employees in their 2014 Media Guide. But you won’t find Jack Kearney’s name. That’s because as Steelers Security Chief Jack Kearney is supposed to keep a low profile and until now he’s largely done a good job.
- In 26 years of actively following the Steelers, the term “security chief” or “head of security” only came up once.
And that was in an article detailing how imposers claimed to be players from the Steelers in order to swindle people out of their money. An article discussed the matter, and quoted Kearney.
Perhaps the Steelers don’t list him because they prefer to keep the focus on football. Regardless of reason, since taking the job in 2001 Steelers Security Chief Jack Kearney has remained in the shadows.
That is about to change thanks to ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”
ESPN’s OTL Swings the Hatchet at Steelers Jack Kearney
The crux of the ESPN piece on Steelers Security Chief Jack Kearney is that his dual roles as a member of the Allegheny Sheriff’s department and Steelers Security Chief create a conflict of interest.
Indeed, ESPN’s Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada discovered that Kearney’s nick name is “The Cleaner” because he is “the longtime point man on messy Steelers business.”
Every organization of any consequence is going to have someone who acts, officially or unofficially, as designated a trouble shooter. It’s a role you see in popular media ranging from “good guys” like George Clooney’s character in Michael Clayton, to pleasantly humored “bad guys” such as “Mr. Wolf” in Pulp Fiction.
Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada make no bones about which category they place Steelers Security Chief Jack Kareney into:
Kearney earned his colorful nickname by using his authority to smooth over and manage a variety of thorny legal issues involving the Steelers, according to an “Outside the Lines” examination of court documents and police records, and interviews with law enforcement officers, lawyers and players.
And just what are those “thorny legal issues?” Continuing from the same paragraph:
Sheriff’s deputies are prohibited by policy from holding off-duty positions with “any potential for a conflict-of-interest,” but on numerous occasions, Kearney has acted on the Steelers’ behalf: expediting gun permits for players, providing damage control on a domestic violence case and delivering 24-hour assistance that sometimes blurs the lines between law enforcement agent and protector, according to multiple sources in and out of the sheriff’s office.
That’s pretty harsh, and Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada are only getting started.
Deconstructing OTL vs. Jack Kearney – The Case of Cedric Wilson
Steelers Nation remembers the Cedric Wilson incident because of Dan Rooney controversial explanation of why the Steelers cut Wilson but treated James Harrison differently.
- However, Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada have unearthed Kearney’s role in the incident, suggesting he acted questionably.
So what exactly did he do?
When Wilson’s name first got into the papers it was because his girlfriend fired a gun at the wall which led to a stand off with police. Kareney learned of the incident, called Wilson who was in route to Memphis and convinced him to return to Pittsburgh. Wilson himself confirms “Jack pretty much advised me to come back, like this was an issue of mine that needed to be dealt with.”
- The Watch Tower fails to find anything unethical about that
Two weeks later Wilson was in the press again, as he was alleged to have stormed into a bar and punched his girlfriend, after which, “That night, according to two sources, Kearney tried to contain the damage by asking people familiar with the incident not to divulge that Wilson had been with other Steelers players before the incident occurred.”
- Again, the Watch Tower fails to see how such actions suggest an abuse of power, authority, or position.
If no other Steelers were involved why should their names be connected? But no publicly reported evidence indicated a connection then, nor did OTL uncover any link now.
In the case of Cedric Wilson, the Watch Tower is forced to conclude that Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada hatchet swung and missed.
Deconstructing OTL vs. Jack Kearney – The case of Richard Seigler
One of the most serious charges Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada level against Kareney is that he interfered with the arrest of former Steeler Richard Seigler. Again, OTL’s dynamic duo mince no words:
Kearney clashed with federal marshals in 2007 after they sought to execute an arrest warrant on a Steelers linebacker. [Emphasis added]
That’s a pretty serious allegation, but the Watch Tower fault’s Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada defense of it.
The Marshals contacted the Steelers to arrange the arrest and a public relations staffer informed Kearney even those the person was not supposed to. The question which the Watch Tower asks but OTL fails to is quite simple:
“If the US Marshal were giving advanced notice that the Steelers they were going to arrest a player on the South Side, why would they call the Steelers PR department in the first place?”
- Seriously, anyone with elementary understanding of law enforcement should be asking that question. Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada fail mightily here.
Regardless, Seigler was absent the next morning, and as OTL explains:
Gallagher said some marshals believed the Steelers, instead of following the agreement, had tipped off Seigler, turning what was lined up to be an easy arrest into a daylong search that required additional resources and manpower.
Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada clearly want the reader to believe that Kearney that person, despite the fact that:
- Kearney supplied them with Seigler’s address
- He then supplied them with an alternate address when Marshal’s couldn’t locate him
- Kearney denied under oath that that he had contributed to the delay in making the arrest
- William P. Mullen, Allegheny County’s Sheriff found no evidence of misconduct on Kearney’s part
- Joseph A. Rizzo, another Allegheny deputy, also said under oath that Kearney did nothing wrong
Credit Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada for doing their research and constructing a clever narrative that appears to call Kearney’s role into question. But quite frankly, the evidence the evidence they marshal to support their claim falls flat.
Deconstructing OTL vs. Jack Kearney – Expediting Gun Permit Approvals
OTL also cites cases where Steelers Security Chief Jack Kearney managed to expedite the processing of gun permits for Steelers.
This is one of the few cases where Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada actually get someone on the record. Gail Carter explained how Kearney would reduce standard 2 week wait times down to 15 minutes, often coming in at the end of the day.
- This is one criticism OTL’s which is both legitimate and substantiated
Based in Buenos Aires, the Watch Tower has seen more than his fair share of cases where “knowing someone” speeds up a long and arduous process; it’s nice when it works for you, but ultimately bad for society as a whole.
Note, however, that Carter clearly indicated that all legal background checks were followed, so Kearney was only helping players jump to the front of the line. While the Watch Tower agrees this is unethical and undesirable it is hardly a damming offense.
Deconstructing OTL vs. Jack Kearney – The Mike Adams Stabbing
OTL’s most detailed allegation involves Mike Adam’s 2013 stabbing, where a series of incidents “made clear the conflicts that many believe are unavoidable.” At issue are the fact that:
- The police called Kearney first
- Kearney spoke with Adams in the hospital – even before detectives did
- Adams story changed the morning after the incident
- Kearney moved Adams card to the Steelers parking lot
- Kearney participated in the manhunt for one of men who was allegedly involved in the incident
To support the claim that the police’s decision to call, OTL relies on Beth Pittinger, executive director of Pittsburgh’s Citizen Police Review Board – which does not oversee the sheriff’s office – declared:
Steeler security, even if it wasn’t a deputy sheriff, should never have been contacted by the city cops. It just seems unseemly. It seems shady. It seems suspicious.
That’s one person’s view and someone who has some qualifications to speak on the subject. But Pittinger fails to say why the police calling the Steelers to inform them of Adams arrest is “shady.”
Had you or I been stabbed on the South Side, the police would not likely have called our employers. But when someone’s been injured and needs to go to the hospital, calling a next of kin or someone close to the victim is common place, and as Steelers Security Chief, Jack Kearney would be a logical, and easy call to make, especially if Adams condition prevented him from supplying another name.
- That’s a highly relevant angle to the story that Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada fail to explore
Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada also fail to provide any journalistic evidence that there was something untoward about Kearney’s visit to the hospital.
- Who wouldn’t rush to the hospital if you heard that a friend or coworker had been stabbed?
- Did Kearney break a rule in talking to Adams? OTL neither claims that nor offers proof
- Did Kearney’s conversation with Adams lead him to alter his story?
Again, Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada can offer no “sources” to claim he does. Yes, it is a little eye brow raising, but how many people have you know whose story changes between the time their blood alcohol content drops from .190 to normal.
Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada really want you to think Kearney’s driving Mike Adam’s car back to the Steelers parking lot is ominous, implying that he tainted evidence, but Kearney’s boss Mullen indicates that “the crime scene was released by the investigating supervisor.” In other words, Kareney was legally free to move the truck.
- Again, if the evidence really was vital to the case, then OTL should find fault with the Pittsburgh police and not Kearney.
On the charge that Kearney’s participation in the man hunt for one of the alleged attackers, OTL is on solid ground, there does appear to be a conflict of interest. Kearney should not have participated, although they fail to cite any evidence that he acted inappropriately during the man hunt.
OTL vs. Steelers Security Chief Jack Kearney – Sensationalistic, Shoddy Journalism
Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada are no amateurs. Both are co-authors of the New York Times best-seller League of Denial alleging the NFL’s cover up of head trauma. The Watch Tower is not familiar with that book or with their other work, but clearly these are not amateur journalists.
- But they’re guilty of shoddy journalism in covering Steelers Security Chief Jack Kearney.
That’s a harsh claim, but the Watch Tower stands by its conclusion. Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada have done their research. They’ve exposed an important figure, previously unknown figure, who works one of the NFL’s most popular franchises. They’ve found him working behind the scenes in several incidents that Dan Rooney and Art Rooney II clearly wish had not happened.
- But they’ve found very few people to speak on the record.
And as the Watch Tower has shown, many of the examples they cite to impeach Kearney’s credibility wilt when exposed to the Watch Tower’s bright lights. Some of the criticisms they’ve leveled at Kearney should be aimed at others. In other cases they fail, intentionally or unintentionally, to ask common sense questions.
ESPN’s OTL’s story on the Steelers Security Chief Jack Kearney will doubtlessly generate good ratings and continued Google hits for days to come. But that doesn’t lend any credibility Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada’s conclusions.
As both Steelers Security Chief and deputy sheriff Jack Kearney might have taken some questionable actions, but he doesn’t appear to be the seedy, corrupt character OTL wants you to think he is.