The indictment of Eugene Lockhart on a $20 million fraud scheme is a shocker because the former Dallas Cowboys linebacker seemed to be such a stand-up guy. He played during the dismal Danny White decade and retired in 1990 just before the team returned to its Super Bowl glory years.
But I remember fondly “Mean Gene the Hitting Machine” because he was something of an over achiever: not much pedigree, but a vicious tackler on the playing field and a well-spoken guy off it.
Years later he did that stunt where he camped out in Texas Stadium to raise money for a charity and he kept talking about how God was telling him to do this and that, which usually makes my red flags go up. But for some reason I feel loyalty to athletes who poured blood, sweat and tears on the Astroturf for our entertainment.
I guess even the Romans liked their gladiators.
Lockhart told The Dallas Morning News that he is “totally innocent” of the charges, saying, “I wouldn’t know how to do a mortgage fraud like that because I don’t know that much about the business.”
The U.S. attorney’s office is pursuing the charges, and I suppose a judge or jury will decide whether Lockhart was dupe or crook.
Until then I’ll reserve judgment. After all, there’s a perception among some folks that Dallas has always been over-eager to crack the whip on its African-American sports stars. Ask Michael Irvin, Eric Williams, or Roy Tarpley.