By T.J. Simers
I’m not sure what to write here, and even if I figure it out, I could very well be wrong.
Eric Kay, the Angels’ PR guy, is going to prison for the next 22 years.
I knew Eric Kay, worked with him, and no, I was never really close with the guy. But he’s a father of three boys, a husband and stupid, making the kind of mistake where there is no satisfactory retreat.
He gave drugs to Angels’ pitcher Tyler Skaggs and Skaggs died. Throw away the key.
For some, it’s that simple.
I’ve heard what Kay said on tape about Skaggs, and it’s as tough as it can be said about someone who is dead. It might also be expected coming from someone who is tortured by what he’s about to lose and how he allowed himself to go that far off the path.
He was sitting in a prison cell and didn’t become politically correct or self-aware overnight no matter what the judge expected. Just goes to show you what an unsophisticated criminal Kay really is, now going to pay for that with two years of additional prison time.
Kay didn’t force Skaggs to take any drugs, but he made them available, and Skaggs died. Everyone here or who was here, are guilty. Skaggs paid for it with his life, and while Kay remains alive, he’s dead to his family, friends and so are any dreams he might have had for the rest of his life.
It’s a horrible story about throwing away life, Skaggs a Major League pitcher and something so wrong with him he put his life in jeopardy. Kay had a dream job in Anaheim, a chance to be a real role model for his three sons and it wasn’t enough.
For so many there is no sympathy, no mitigation or a second side to the story. And as angry as Kay sounded apparently on prison tapes, that’s all she wrote.
But imagine sitting in prison Tuesday night and looking ahead to the next 22 years.
And I know what some are saying, what about Skaggs?
I don’t have the answers, whether the drugs were laced with fentanyl, whether Kay could have done something to save Skaggs, whether 20 years was too much prison punishment and then added time for venting in prison about how upset he was with Skaggs, or just how much to blame him for being so bitter.
There’s nothing simple about a life thrown away, no idea what must be going on in Key’s head, or why it should never have crossed his mind when he started trafficking drugs.
But I did know Darryl Henley, a Rams’ starting cornerback on the verge of making more than $1 million year, who went away to prison for 41 years without any chance of parole.
I didn’t get along with Henley, as writer and football player, but I came to know him as accused drug trafficker and later as the guy ordering a hit on a judge and Rams cheerleader.
Henley got in trouble initially because he allowed family and friends to take advantage of his stardom and money. He didn’t think he was doing anything wrong, and given his awesome ability to communicate, it was clear in his head he could talk his way out of anything.
But he was wrong, and he began to dig a deeper hole, angry like Kay because he didn’t think he was as guilty as everyone made him out to be. He couldn’t take responsibility for his misjudgment.
I was with Henley in his home the night before the jury pronounced him guilty and he never saw it coming. The Feds set him up in prison and he took the bait and ordered the hit on the judge and cheerleader. Once again, no sympathy for such a lack of judgment.
It’s jarring, though, to watch someone toss away their life. He’s been in prison something like 27 years and can’t get out before 2036 when he will be 61.
I wish I could I write something insightful or meaningful about Kay or how life unexpectedly changed for the Skaggs family. And why did it happen? I am at such a loss how to explain it or how I really feel.
For a writer, that is so defeating. So frustrating.