We’ve now heard a few different versions on who banned “booster” Eddie Martin really was. He was a warm and generous man who was a father to many inner city kids who maybe never had such a figure in their life. He put “clothes on your back and shoes on your feet.” Sounds like a modern-day Robin Hood?

Paul Wong

At least until you hear the other side. “Uncle” Eddie was also a sleezy, sneaky creature who “befriended” unassuming high school kids, promised them the world and showered them with small gifts from time to time. He was a predator who “preyed” on such kids’ naivete.

The problem with these two versions? Both are public statements from the same man, former Michigan “Fab Five” superstar Chris Webber, over the past year.

Ridiculous? Such contradictory comments symbolize the lies and obscure cloud of smoke Webber is blowing in front of everyone’s face. As late as yesterday, Webber pleaded innocent to perjury and obstruction of justice charges. He said he’ll fight until he’s “vindicated.”

It’s about time Webber grows up, tells the truth about the relationship with Eddie and faces the music – which in the $123 million man’s case most likely is a slap on the wrist, a fine and probation. It’s in the best interest for himself, his family and the University.

The latest indictment says Webber lied to the grand jury, to Michigan investigators, to everyone. Eddie’s admission in court that he did in fact loan Webber and other former Michigan players more than $600,000 in a money laundering scheme also points to Webber lying.

The bottom line is that Martin said he gave $280,000 of that cash to Webber in the form of rent, hotel rooms and food.

That’s the problem with Webber – it’s usually take, take, take.

How much time has Webber spent returning to Michigan, to give back to the school he “loves” and help in the recruiting and rebuilding efforts?

I’d ask him, but he’d probably lie.

Webber’s strategy? Deny, deny, deny. He even protected Eddie, the same guy who “preyed” on him, by denying he ever took money. Anything he could do to shift the blame and hope it goes away. Well, Webber’s legal problems aren’t going away soon, especially since his plea of innocence yesterday.

The black cloud cast over the Michigan basketball program surely isn’t going away soon either, as the NCAA probably will wait until Webber’s case is done before laying the hammer on Michigan – which has been suffering from de facto probation ever since the whole ordeal started nearly a decade ago.

And the charges against his father, Mayce Webber, and his aunt aren’t going away either. According to the indictment, they lied to investigators as well, hoping to help Webber weasel his way out of a mess he helped start a while back.

“I didn’t get cars; I didn’t get nothing,” Webber told The New York Times Monday night. “I got $20 here and there, a lot of times. I’ll be honest, it happened a lot.”

Maybe Webber mowed Eddie’s lawn 14,000 times at $20 a pop. Maybe Eddie paid Webber 28 installments of $10,000 to wash his car. Either way, the truth needs to come out. Louis Bullock, Robert Traylor and Jalen Rose all admitted to taking money from Martin.

All Michigan, the NCAA, and the FBI want is for Webber to take responsibility.

Is that too much to ask from a “Michigan man?”

Joe Smith can be reached at josephms@umich.edu.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *