By Jaime Aron
HOUSTON - During the 17 minutes Roger Clemens spoke with friend-turned-accuser Brian McNamee, he kept his emotions in check. He did an even better job during the 17 minutes he listened again to the phone call in a room filled with reporters.
And then it was Clemens' turn to talk. And out came the emotion.
In his first news conference since McNamee accused him of using steroids and human growth hormone in the Mitchell Report, Clemens' eyes watered during his opening statement and again during what proved to be his closing remarks. The whole thing lasted about 2½ minutes less than his chat with McNamee, ending with Clemens abruptly leaving.
Clemens sat expressionless as he listened to the conversation taped last Friday, when his former personal trainer repeatedly asked, "What do you want me to do?"
McNamee said those words, or a close variation, 21 times. No matter whether McNamee's tone was angry or pleading, whether he was talking about his ailing 10-year-old son or offering to go to jail, Clemens never fired back with anger or accusations that McNamee was lying.
Instead, Clemens offered his own repetitive theme: "I just want the truth out there."
The next steps in this unfolding saga might help discover that elusive truth.
A week from Wednesday, Clemens and McNamee are scheduled to testify under oath before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
"I'm going to Congress, and I'm going to tell the truth," Clemens said. "I'm going to tell everything I know about the situation and steroids and everything else, which isn't a lot."
McNamee told former Senator majority leader George Mitchell that he injected Clemens at least 16 times with steroids and human growth hormone in 1998, 2000 and 2001. Clemens acknowledged receiving injections from McNamee, however, he said they were vitamin B-12 and the painkiller lidocaine.
McNamee has agreed to testify, and Clemens' attorney, Rusty Hardin, said the seven-time Cy Young Award winner would answer all questions without invoking his Constitutional right against self-incrimination. But Hardin wouldn't vouch for how Clemens will handle the questions.
"I can't guarantee anybody he won't be as upset with the allegations there as he has been here," Hardin said. "The one thing I can guarantee is that he's going to answer them."
Clemens and McNamee also might be headed toward a showdown in court.
Late Sunday, Clemens filed a defamation suit against McNamee in a Texas state court, another salvo in the escalating fight between the pair, who had worked together since they met while with the Toronto Blue Jays a decade ago. One of McNamee's lawyers, Richard Emery, said his client probably will sue Clemens in New York.
During the news conference, Clemens answered a little more than a dozen questions, several of them follow-ups to comments he made during a "60 Minutes" interview that aired Sunday night.
As his answers became more impassioned, Hardin passed Clemens a note telling him to "lighten up." Clemens scoffed.
Then he ended the session amid talk about the Hall of Fame, jabbing his index finger while angrily dismissing the idea that he must be inducted to justify his hard work and career.
"I cannot wait to go into the private sector and hopefully never have to answer it again," Clemens said.
"I've said enough," he added, then walked out.
Afterward, Hardin said Clemens' prickliness was understandable - even justified.