Lights, camera, tears

By ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

Calgary Sun

January 9, 2004

Act 25, scene 1 of the Fred Fateri Follies.

Lights up, cameras rolling, and ... action.

Open up Fateri press conference with melodramatic statement from lawyer about how his jilted client left everything behind for a business deal that went sour.

Careful not to upstage the principal actor in the shot, build towards a crescendo with the big line:

"One individual's dreams and aspirations have been shattered," delivers Clint Docken flawlessly.

Camera One: Tight shot of Fateri . Cue the tears.

Wedged between his two attorneys, Fateri breaks down crying. Head bowed as he tries to compose himself, the once-brash former Stamps COO slowly looks up with tears in his eyes and summons the courage to continue.

Cue lawyer No. 2 for the show-stopping sound bite:

"As you can see, this is not something Fred wanted," says counsel Vaughn Marshall in a hushed tone.

"I think you're seeing a side of Fred Fateri that unfortunately hasn't been seen before."

Cut, cut, cut. If I may interrupt the scene for a second, might I remind everyone how unfortunate it is to all Stamps fans that Fateri is being seen at all?

Months after it seemed Michael Feterik , the CFL, Calgary and the rest of Canada had seen the last of the egotistical Californian, Fateri chose to use his lawsuit as yet another well-lit stage to embarrass himself and the club.

It wasn't enough for him to quietly file his claim to monetary compensation through the Calgary courts. He simply couldn't resist jumping back into the spotlight he craved so much while turning the once-proud club into a punchline .

And so the joke continues.

Using the devil-made-me-do-it defence to suggest his reputation was besmirched simply because he allowed himself to be Feterik's pawn in a game designed to ensure the owner's son would quarterback the team, Fateri told a hostile Calgary media horde he wanted dearly to sign Dave Dickenson. He claims firing Wally Buono wasn't his idea.

"Wally never wanted Kevin Feterik on the team and he didn't even have him (tabbed) as a third-stringer," said Fateri .

"I was ordered to 'clear the mess.' We all know what Michael Feterik's motivation was. I did what I was asked to do. I managed the team the way he wanted me to, not the way I wanted to and I took the heat for it."

And because of it, he argues, he can't get a job anywhere else in football.

"My reputation was tarnished because I was taking orders," said Fateri , who is seeking $600,000 US as part of the 10% ownership stake he claims to have as per his agreement. "I think I did a fairly good job bringing in good players at every position except one but I couldn't do anything about that."

Let's be clear on one thing: Fateri was in way over his head and did a great job sullying his reputation all by himself. Based on his football credentials (none) he never would have landed himself a football job anyway, if it weren't for his old gym pal Feterik .

Thing is, by being Feterik's crash-test dummy, absorbing all the public-relations hits that otherwise would have been taken by the owner, shouldn't Fateri at least have been paid for his efforts?

Damn right he should. But it should have been handled quietly.

Stamps lawyer Greg Peterson insists he won't argue a legal matter in the media, saying only Fateri has no ownership entitlement.

Funny, given Feterik said the day of Fateri's firing (originally positioned as a resignation) he'd have to look at buying back Fateri's shares. It was only months later the club announced Fateri had no such entitlement.

"I don't want people in Calgary to feel sorry for me -- I want them to know the truth," said Fateri .

So what is the truth? Guess you'll have to wait for the sequel.