Tim McGraw’s current scrape with the law has not damaged relationships with his record label, sponsors or others who work with him, according to his manager, Scott Siman. Speaking at a news conference in Nashville Thursday (June 15), Siman said, “They know his character, and they’ve called to offer whatever support they can.”
Siman specified that McGraw continues to be backed fully by Anheuser-Busch (Bud Light), his sponsor for his upcoming tour with wife Faith Hill.
McGraw’s publicist called the news conference to release the singer’s first public statement about the June 3 fracas in Buffalo, N. Y., that led to his being charged with the felony of second-degree assault on a police officer. McGraw did not attend the conference but was represented by Siman, who read his statement, and his lawyer, Thomas J. Eoannou.
Siman also denied emphatically that McGraw had been drinking before the incident.
One surprise in McGraw’s account of the brawl — estimated to have lasted only 20 to 30 seconds — is his contention that he feared his children were in danger from a speeding police car that came backstage in pursuit of Chesney.
Asked if his client might plead guilty to a lesser offense simply to settle the matter, Siman responded “Absolutely not.” Added Eoannou, “We were fortunate enough to find 11 or 12 witnesses who said that Tim never assaulted anyone.”
While conceding that “there was contact made between Tim and an officer,” Eoannou insisted the contact did not constitute assault. “I’ve seen the medical records [of the officer who alleged McGraw attacked him],” the lawyer said. “In fact, they don’t indicate even a scratch.”
Eoannou was not entirely dismissive of the police. “In fairness to the officers,” he said, “you can understand them seeing Mr. Chesney on a deputy’s horse, wearing an orange windbreaker and a baseball cap, and thinking [the horse] might be stolen … But have some diplomacy. Ask the question, ‘Did you have permission?’”
Eoannou, whose office is in Buffalo, said he became involved in the case when he was called in by a fellow lawyer at the stadium where the incident occurred.
Warming to his defense of McGraw, Siman asserted, “Tim is a person of immense character and quality. This man just got a father of the year award. He didn’t spend three days away from his kids last year — not three days away. And he has had a reconciliation with his biological father he met when he was 11 years old. He has done so much community service in this area and his hometown. What’s really upsetting to me — not speaking for Tim — is that these people attacked Tim’s reputation. I’m proud of what he did. I don’t know that I would have the courage … He did the right thing, and he did the legal thing. There’s nothing wrong with what he did.”
In this case, Eoannou argued, McGraw’s celebrity status works against rather than for him: “People said because Mr. McGraw’s a millionaire, he thinks he can beat up a cop. It actually works the reverse. Because he’s as successful as he is, it makes it more difficult for him to exercise his constitutional rights. If it was anybody else, I think this case already would have been gone.”
Next up is a court hearing on July 18. Although Eoannou acknowledged that the case might be resolved before then, he said he doubted it would be.