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Steve Phillips: 'I'm totally responsible for everything I did'

Matt Lauer interviewed former Mets general manager and ESPN analyst Steve Phillips early Monday morning on NBC’s “Today” show.

It was Phillips’ first interview since being fired by ESPN last year in the wake of a sex scandal and a subsequent 45-day stay at a Mississippi sex addiction clinic.
 
Here is my transcription of what Mr. Phillips said during the five-minute sitdown:
 
Phillips: “It was hard to watch that lead-in. There was a lot of sadness there. I take a look at it and I think that what people need to understand is that what I want to do is take ownership. I made some mistakes. People look at sex addiction as an excuse. It’s not an excuse. I’m totally responsible for everything I did and accept responsibility for that. Sex addiction is a diagnosis. It’s when you recognize the problems that you have and that you have to go and get some help.’’
 
On whether sex addiction “is kind of a modern-day get-out-of-jail-free card":
 
“I recognized in August that I had a little problem, that I was a sex addict and I needed to get help. I starting calling facilities in August, well before everything blew up and there was a problem where I ended up losing my job. I ended up making the decision to go and get treatment on the Friday before the Sunday when I got fired. I was going to get help. I knew I had a problem where I had to get help. I think the compulsion is where you can’t help yourself where you understand the consequences. You know, the first step of the 12 steps is that you’re powerless over your addiction and it gets unmanageable. It wasn’t anybody else. It was me. I couldn’t stop myself from doing the things I was doing, even knowing the consequences: married, great job, great career. I risked all of that to act out the way that I did.’’
 
On listening to his wife’s 911 call during the lead-in:
 
“It’s sad. I think of all my family’s gone through. When you think about the victims in all of this, people chose to participate in the relationship, but my wife and kids didn’t. What my wife and kids have gone through, the trauma they’ve faced, not only from having a father and husband who’s a sex addict, but the trauma of the media attention afterward and me going away for 45 days, they’ve been through a lot.’’
 
On whether he has spoken to Brooke Hundley, the young ESPN staff with whom he had an affair:
 
“No.’’
 
On what he would say to her:
 
“I don’t think it would be appropriate. The way I look at it, all of that is in the past. My focus is trying to move forward, trying to save my family. I’m not wishing ill on anybody. I think everybody needs to move on with their lives and try to put the pieces back together.’’
 
On what goes on at the clinic, which reportedly also has treated Tiger Woods:
 
“People who go there are broken people. That’s really the essence of the addiction is that you’re broken inside. You’ve got a hole that you need to try to fill, whether it’s with alcohol or drugs or sex or gambling, whatever. You’ve got a lot of broken people there that are struggling to find answers and really that’s what you do. You go there and they try to get to the basis of why did you do what you did. For most addicts, whether it’s alcohol or sex or whatever, it’s that you have that hole inside based upon shame and trauma that occurred from childhood.’’
 
On whether this will work better than when he was treated in 1998:
 
“The first time back in ’98 you’re referencing with the Mets, when I had another scandal, I didn’t go to a clinic. I just got some local therapy and really didn’t get diagnosed properly. So I tried to manage everything on my own. I didn’t get in a system, didn’t get in a program, didn’t get the appropriate help. It was my issue. I didn’t realize it then. [This time] I did get to the basis of my issue, that reality that when I made a mistake it wasn’t that I made a mistake. I thought it was a mistake. When I failed, I thought I was a failure. When I disappointed someone, I internalized it that I am a disappointment. That hole is something that I looked for some way to medicate and fill. And most addicts that I’ve been around, it’s been a similar story. So I’ve gotten to the basis but I need to try to resolve those issues on my own.”
 
On the state of his marriage:
 
“I’m working my tail off to try to save my marriage. I’ve broken my wife’s heart and she’s had to deal with so many different issues trying to keep a family together. We went to therapy together and we’re working hard to try to do that. I don’t know what the ultimate result will be because I’ve damaged her and our relationship in a terrible way.”

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