We say "now" because what Clemens did during his "60 Minutes" chat with good buddy Mike Wallace was drape another layer of spin on the certifiably provocative findings of the Mitchell Report.
In that report, personal trainer Brian McNamee testified that he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs in 1998, 2001 and 2002. Clemens' first response ... well, he didn't really have a first response. He let the story gurgle for nearly a week, during which time Andy Pettitte, also implicated by McNamee in the Mitchell Report, came out and said, "Yep, that's about right."
Clemens waited five days before checking in with a prepared statement released by one of his agents. Six days after that, on Christmas Eve, he posted a video on his Web site in which he denied ever using steroids and human growth hormone, and claimed he "did not provide Brian McNamee with any drugs to inject into my body."
Then came the announcement he would consent to an interview -- taped in his Katy, Texas, home and conducted by Wallace, an unabashed Roger Clemens fan. The highlight, as excerpted earlier this week: McNamee did inject Clemens -- with lidocaine and B-12.
Notice the evolving nature of the denial. Notice the fun with semantics. Notice Clemens controlling the discussion from inside his protective cocoon, free from sanction.
Next up: A press conference
Clemens' goal is obvious -- he doesn't want to become the power-pitching yin to Barry Bonds' power-hitting yang where the steroids age is concerned. Like Bonds, he is providing slippery answers to tough questions. Like Bonds, the circumstantial evidence is powerful.
Clemens looked done at 34. He was 40-39 in his final four seasons with Boston. That he signed as a free agent with Toronto after the 1996 season tells you all you need to know about how he was regarded inside the industry at the time.
The transformation was immediate. Clemens won his first 11 games with the Blue Jays in 1997. Win No. 10 came at Oakland, and afterward the obvious question was, "What the heck?"
The answer: "I've got a forkball now."
Clemens won the Cy Young Award both seasons in Toronto. He joined the Yankees, where he won another. He signed with Houston, where he won his seventh -- 18 years after he'd won his first.
Since turning 40, Clemens is 66-36 with a 3.12 ERA and more than 8 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched -- a winning percentage, ERA and strikeout ratio that match almost exactly the numbers he compiled before turning 40.
Along the way, the once rail-thin Clemens transformed into a barrel-chested brute of a man. Like Bonds, he wants us to believe it was solely the result of intense training.
Like Bonds, Clemens wants us to believe the unbelievable. He wants us to believe McNamee told the truth about everything except the nature of the drugs with which he injected Clemens. He wants us to believe he let a personal trainer inject him with legal drugs rather than have them administered by a doctor.
He wants us to believe the Mitchell Report got everything right -- except the part about him. And he wants to accomplish all this while controlling the questions and taking as long as he needs to come up with the answers.
"I'm not talking to y'all about it," Clemens told a New York Post reporter the day his statement was released by his agent. "We'll handle this our way."
That's a great strategy if you don't mind muddy footprints on your legacy. But if you care about your reputation as much as Clemens seems to care about his, there's only one way to go: Testify before Congress.
Clemens has been invited to appear before the House Oversight Committee on Jan. 16 -- along with McNamee, former Yankees teammate Chuck Knoblauch and trainer Kirk Radomski. Of course that means entering a public forum, taking an oath and submitting to questions you can neither approve in advance nor blithely dismiss.
Attorney Rusty Hardin, speaking for Clemens, received the invitation this way: "Roger is willing to answer questions, including those under oath. We hope to determine shortly if schedules and other commitments can accommodate the committee on that date."
What could be more important than the perfect opportunity to clear your name? That would be the first round of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, in which Clemens is scheduled to participate.
Too bad. On the other hand, there are multi-media opportunities the denial tour has yet to explore.
You hear a lot of good things about skywriting.
Contact Gary Peterson at email@example.com.