So instead of sunning on a beach deck with a retired scout who's giving me more legend than fact, and me not caring about the difference, I'm staring into the eyes of Greg Lloyd somewhere in the suburban sprawl of Atlanta on a hot September afternoon as he's talking non-stop about the importance of discipline. All I could think about was finding the right time to ask him about his son, so I just blurted it out. Lloyd expected the question and didn't blink.
"I don't blame my son for what has taken place," he started. "I think everybody around me and everybody over there realizes it was a lie. And a lot of it just never really got out, what really took place."
Lloyd recounted his son's girlfriend's testimony, the testimony at the second trial which cast doubt over the rest of the case.
"I think what happened," Lloyd said, "is Gregory loves his mom and he didn't want to disappoint his mom. So I understand why he did what he did. As a father, he's kind of like the prodigal son. He has spun his wheels, said some things that I think and I know that he doesn't believe. I have put myself out there to let him know that he's forgiven, but I can't be sure that the message gets through because there are so many people trying to block it, which I never understood. How can somebody stand in the way of a father-son relationship? Who would want to do that? So I've waited until he's become a man, and I think the best thing for him is being at UConn, being away from his mom, growing up and understanding life. I think that's going to open up his eyes to what really went down, and I think in time that'll do it. I tried to make the initial contact by saying, ‘Hey listen I'm here. My number hasn't changed the last 10 years. You know where I live and you know my values and my views won't change.' They won't change. I am still the same person. I still believe in discipline. I still believe in doing things the right way because that's the way to do it. I still believe in honor. I still believe in children honoring their parents. I let him know that, but I also let him know that he's his own man. That's really all, as a father, I can do.
"You know, when I stopped playing professional football I gave up my old life. I stopped drinking. I gave all that up. I haven't drank since then. I'm not that same person. She still wanted that lifestyle and I didn't, so when I retired, I retired to do everything: Get my kids up in the morning, take them to the private school, pick them up, help them with their homework, and then get them here in time to do tae kwon do. That's what I did. I became mom and dad. For me, it was almost like I was trying to make up for all that time I missed playing football. You can't do it, but the thing was I was resented. I was resented. You would think most women would think, ‘Wow, dad's home. Now I get to rest.' But she liked that power. She liked that power of ‘Look at my house.' I'm like, ‘Well, you didn't play football. You don't have any bruises or broken fingers or bad knees or screws in you, so don't do this.' That's what most of the arguments sprang from. Then she started doing stuff, having people at my house without me knowing, without telling me, and it became very disrespectful, so one of us had to go. I brought my children downstairs and just explained to them what was going on, and that they probably weren't going to see dad for a while until we got things worked out. I still didn't want them to let that be an excuse for bad behavior or for bad grades in school. My son was right there ..."
Steeler Nation: A Pittsburgh Team, An American Phenomenon is available at PittsburghSportsPublishing.com.