An Atlanta sports radio host is saying that our old pal John Rocker kind of went bonkers at a nightclub opening both were attending last night, and had to be restrained.
It happened at the W Hotel-Buckhead in Atlanta, where the nightclub Whiskey Blue was staging its grand opening on Thursday night. Invited where several area celebrities, among them Jamal Anderson, Bob Whitfield and Rocker, the latter whom we all know. Also on hand was Atlanta sports radio host Steve "Steak" Shapiro of 790 The Zone, who has a bit of a tumultuous history with Mr. Rocker. In retrospect, perhaps inviting both to the same function was not wise.
"Rocker has a problem with me," Shapiro told me by phone today. "I took him to task for things he has said, and he's hated me ever since."
Shapiro was one of Rocker's main detractors following the whole Sports Illustrated controversy. That's the infamous interview with writer Jeff Pearlman in the Dec. 27, 1999 issue of SI in which Rocker went on his "queers with AIDS" diatribe aimed at the people of New York. Shapiro, who was doing a lot of work for CNN and Fox at the time, called out Rocker for the comments on more than one occasion. (CNN transcript here: Scroll about a third of the way down the page).
So here's what Shapiro said happened at Whiskey Blue last night. But before we start with the craziness, Rocker, through a second party, has categorically denied to us that any of this took place. So you know.
"We were standing near each other, and he (Rocker) was staring at me the whole night, trying that rock star pro wrestler stuff," Shapiro said. "So finally I say to him 'Let's try to be civil, OK? Can we be civil to one another?' And that's when he exploded.
"He said 'I'm not being civil to you, you motherfucking cocksucker!,' " Shapiro said. "He just went off, and we started going at each other. He called me a 'Jew faggot,' and a couple of other things, you know, just doing what John Rocker does. He was out of control. People had to separate us. I was saying 'Are you going to hit me John? Is that what you want?' Of course knowing full well that he could crush me. I'm 6-2 at 42 years old, and he's 6-5. He could destroy me. But it didn't come to that. We were in each other's face and finally a few people came along and led him out of the bar."
Shapiro said much the same thing happened four or five years ago at a similar function.
"That's Rocker," Shapiro said. "He has anger issues; the guy can snap. He was a bully when he played, and nothing's changed."
Attempts to reach Rocker have been made and we're still awaiting his comment, which may or may not come today. We'll see.