Grantland's Jay Kang traveled to Stephentown, N.Y., to talk to Brian Holloway, the former all-pro NFL lineman who recently set off a bit of a media shitstorm after a bunch of teenagers threw a party in his abandoned and foreclosed home. Kang's piece attempts to answer the question that has hung over Holloway's saga for weeks now: Is he just a noble victim of dirty no-good teens, or is he a shady opportunist with a severely cock-eyed view of both himself and the world around him? The answer is that he is both, but he's a whole lot more of the second than he is the first.
A quick refresher: In September, some teens threw a rager at Holloway's home in Stephentown, after which Holloway collected images from the party that attendees had posted on various social media sites and displayed them on a website called HelpMeSaveThe300.com. The ostensible purpose of the site was to shame the "300" kids who trashed his house, invite them to come back and help repair the damage that they'd caused, and raise money for the repairs that the house needed. Lessons were to be learned, what was broken was to be fixed, and the story could have ended there.
But then, as Kang points out in his story, Holloway continued to push his plight in the media while acting increasingly unhinged. That's when everyone found out that Holloway's Stephentown home was in foreclosure and started wondering if he might be a bit nuts.
As it turns out, yes, Brian Holloway is very nuts:
During our running conversation, Holloway referenced Ayn Rand on multiple occasions, particularly in reference to his long-term business plans. He claimed that Steve Jobs and other "Wall Street and tech types" had been interested in turning Stephentown into a sort of self-selecting outpost of the Hamptons, modeled after Atlas Shrugged, where leaders in all industries could convene as a society of free and creative thinkers. And in true Objectivist spirit, Holloway tried to turn HelpMeSave300 into a business opportunity. He talked to people he calls "IT professionals" to develop a "suite of software" that would allow parents to track and monitor all of their children's social-media interactions.
There is no clear way to state the mission of HelpMeSave300 because Brian Holloway's logic only tracks with those who would believe that a 15-year-old who attends a party has so seriously put her life at risk that her parents should thank Brian Holloway for somehow saving her from an early grave. For some semblance of clarity, I asked Holloway what he thought the appropriate punishment would have been for a kid who had come to the party for an hour without the knowledge that it was illegal. Holloway told me what his father would have done to him: "He would have beat me, took me to the house so the owner could beat me, then he would make me scrub the house with a toothbrush, raise the money to cover all the damage, and then turn me in to the police and say, 'Here, arrest him.'"
Oh, there's also a moment when Holloway alleges that Michael Jackson somehow influenced the Patriots' play calling in Super Bowl XX. Seriously.
Kang is charitable to Holloway, whom he sees as two different men. There's the smart, accomplished former NFL player who has enjoyed a successful post-football career as a motivational speaker and a mentor to troubled youths, and then there's the wild-eyed, paranoid guy with a heavy persecution complex who owes the bank $1,006,348.80.
But maybe Brian Holloway has always been that second guy. Here's Holloway's ex-wife, talking to Robert Lipsyte about the couple's divorce in 1997:
Still, McKenzie makes excuses for Holloway, who is scheduled to appear in court on June 18 to face the charges that he violated the temporary restraining order. ''As long as he had football, as long as he had the outlet of being a warrior at war, it wasn't so bad,'' she said. ''But all that energy, all that intelligence needs a channel. Once he figures it out, there is no limit to his potential.''
Maybe Brian Holloway has just been waiting all this time for a new war to fight in.
Anyway, go read Kang's piece right now. It's great.