If you missed this week’s episode of “ESPN 60,” then you did yourself a disservice. No, I’m not referring to the Stephon Marbury piece, although that was interesting, as well. The second segment on the magazine-style series on “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” featured Gregg Valentino and the New York native was seen in a different light that the public has never seen before.
Being a personal friend of Gregg’s and having spoken to him about this appearance for months now, I had figured that – for the most part – he would be portrayed the way he has been in a number of other mainstream media outlets the past few years. For the first part of the story that held true. The reporter spoke to Chris Bell, director of “Bigger, Stronger, Faster” and – in a part that should have made the cutting room floor – a brief word or two from Dan Clark who played ‘Nitro,’ one of the original American Gladiators who has admitted to being a steroid user for 20 years.
Clark admitted that he didn’t know Gregg personally but was at a loss to comprehend how he does not have any side effects from his extended use of anabolics and stated that Valenino was a “walking side effect.” This claim was totally refuted when ESPN put Valentino through a battery of medical tests and, according to the reporter, he is in overall good health.
At one point during the story, the screen goes black and states, ‘One month later,’ and Valentino is again being interviewed and breaks down emotionally. This is due to the fact that he is estranged from his teenage son and that his daughter saw him on a school film talking about drug and steroid abuse. That was it for him and Valentino had an epiphany.
The man who has always been connected to steroids does not want to talk about them any longer and feels that they are ruining the sport of bodybuilding. On camera he is seated in front of his computer at home and was writing his “Ramblin’ Freak” column for the June issue of Muscular Development magazine. This one would be different, he said, and didn’t care if people would consider him a sell-out for writing what he did.
As soon as the segment ended, I called Gregg and to my surprise he was not watching it but rather out on the road somewhere in his car. He told me that he was “nervous” to watch it but wanted to make sure that it was done properly and in good taste, especially the parts about his children.
For those of you that do not know Gregg and he is just a guy you read about in the magazines, he is the most down-to-earth and honest guy out there. His knowledge of the history of the sport of bodybuilding is vast and deep and he is far from just ” The Man Who’s Arms Exploded.” Being funny, witty and having street smarts are just a few of the traits that make him who he is.
Gregg compared the way he feels now to a recovering alcoholic that never wants to see a bottle again. Although he has been talking about this for some time now with me, I was still surprised to see this side of him come out in the media. He may have made a name for himself due to steroids, but he is so much more than that and I for one feel that it is about time that everyone gets to see the ‘new Gregg,’ if you will, and not just the ones who know him away from the game.