Former TCU wide receiver Kolby Listenbee took his lawsuit against TCU coach Gary Patterson, the university and the Big 12 Conference to premium cable television on Tuesday night when he appeared as part of a segment on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel."
Listenbee was injured during a touchdown reception against SMU in September 2015 during his senior season. He alleges that Patterson, former offensive coordinator Doug Meacham and other coaches “continually harassed, humiliated, pressured and threatened” him after his injury diagnosis in an effort to “force Listenbee to return to play quickly.”
He is seeking damages in excess of $1 million.
The most eye-opening part of his appearance on the show came in this exchange with reporter Jon Frankel:
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Listenbee: "They were going to tell the scouts that I was soft so I wouldn't get drafted and stuff. I felt all kind of blackmail."
Frankel: "There was nothing subtle about his approach. He [Patterson] made it very clear to you: 'If you don't play, I am going to tell potential future employers, meaning the NFL, that you're not tough enough.'"
Listenbee: "Yeah, which I've seen him do in the past."
TCU submitted a statement to HBO that read, "TCU student-athletes are only cleared based on the judgment of independent medical professionals. And that no one is forced to play."
In late February, details of alleged abuse involving five other former TCU football players were added to the lawsuit accusing Patterson and the university of a pattern of verbal abuse and a pressure to play despite serious injuries.
Patterson defended himself, his program, and the medical staff in early March saying, "I guess I was a little bit hurt. I'm one of those coaches that put everything in my life into kids. Growing them up, giving them opportunity."
The first time Listenbee spoke publicly about his claims was ESPN's "Outside the Lines" program. That segment aired shortly after Patterson made his statements.