League sources have confirmed to Blazersedge that Ziegler, who has conducted similar assessments on professional athletes in a number of sports, was contracted by the Blazers in 2008 to provide biomechanical assessments for Oden first and then a number of Blazers. Prior to this work, Ziegler assessed the free throw shooting stroke of then Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O'Neal on at least one occasion, an encounter documented by a local news station and confirmed by a league source with knowledge of the relationship. Ziegler has also worked with Arizona Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin, as documented in a separate local news feature.
Penn, now an ESPN analyst, declined to comment to Blazersedge, either with regard to the content of Ziegler's post or the nature of his contact with Ziegler. A spokesperson for the Blazers declined comment to Blazersedge concerning Ziegler and his claims on multiple occasions, citing the organization's policy not to discuss the private medical information of its players.
Adams and Ziegler both stated that the fraud charge pertained to alleged financial dealings rather than the technology used by Ziegler to assess athletes.
"That's correct," Adams said. "Let me preface this by saying I was only retained last week. He had a public defender and I have just begun review of the discovery. I do believe based on the allegations in the indictment that that is correct."
Lou D'Ermilio, the Senior Vice President of Communications for Fox Sports, told Blazersedge on Wednesday that the network is not planning to release a television program by that name and that its national and local programming departments do not have a professional relationship with Ziegler.
"We have not been in contact with him and we have no plans to broadcast this program on any Fox Sports affiliate," D'Ermilio said.
"Somebody has to sound the wake up call," Ziegler said. "In a major situation like this, there's always someone who speaks up and makes people pay attention. Unfortunately I've had to sit back and watch athletes I've assessed repeatedly suffer injuries that I said they would suffer unless they did something to address the imbalances. This isn't about me looking for attention to myself, it's more about me bringing attention to the problem that we've got. I've worked with athletes in football, basketball, baseball, all major sports. It's not just basketball, it's not just the Portland Trail Blazers and what their medical staff might be seeing. It's a problem in sports at all levels. We just want to get the athlete back on the court. The problem with professional sports is that it's a business and at some point you have to say, 'I'm going to cut my losses because something is not working.' This is a wake up call to the industry."
Ziegler said that he was only able to publicly discuss the matter because he was no longer confined by a three-year confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement that he says recently expired. He said that he has not had a professional relationship with any of the Blazers players since he tested them in 2008, although he said that he was contacted by Penn about possibly revisiting the testing process shortly before Penn was fired in March 2010.
"With all due respect, and I know you record these [interviews]," he said. "You've got your assistant GM sitting on the phone and they just spent a few thousand dollars to get a test done on your athlete... You're pretty much going to say what you're supposed to say at that point, with all due respect to Jay."
His feelings from that phone call were not the only negative experience Ziegler recalled having with Portland's staff. At a meeting over a steak dinner near the Blazers' Tualatin practice facility, Ziegler said multiple members of Portland's medical staff openly laughed at him as they attempted to poke holes in his findings and recommendations.
Ziegler stopped short of saying that Oden was rushed back to the court. Instead, he said that Oden could have returned in the same amount of time if he had properly completed the strength building exercises that he had prescribed. But Ziegler said that a re-test of Oden showed that, while some progress had been made, it appeared that Oden had been coached to do certain things in an attempt to trick the walking portion of the test.
"If I had been responsible for his return to the court, all due respect to what they are doing there," Ziegler said. "He would have gotten back on the court at the same time, but those injuries he's suffered since then, I can almost guarantee that those wouldn't have occurred."
"I know Portland's medical staff is doing the best they can with the situation and cards that they are dealt," he said. "This is more about a change to the industry that is needed. A change in particular to professional sports. This is more about that than making them look bad. I know they did the best that they can and I know in many cases, when I've dealt with official athletic trainers, the last thing they want to do is be the guy who tried to implement a change and screw something up... Maybe that means the Jay Jensens of the world and other athletic trainers out there who are tasked with trying to keep multimillion dollar athletes on the court or on the field, maybe that means they need more help, maybe they need a bigger staff. Maybe they need more support from ownership and management. That's probably what it really comes down to."
One model to follow, Ziegler suggested, is the one established by the well-regarded Phoenix Suns staff.
"The Phoenix Suns brought in Mike Clark and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. They rocked the boat, they shook things up. They've also kept athletes healthier."
After 45 minutes of conversation last week, Ziegler closed his account by acknowledging that he expected the Blazers would respond to his lengthy, detailed statements.
"They're going to say, 'We brought the guy in,' and hopefully they are going to say they paid attention and did everything they could," he predicted. "Hopefully they'll say that. I hate to think of them saying, 'We brought him in and we didn't buy that.' I would hate to hear them say that because everything in [my reports] has come true."
In July of 2012, the Arizona Attorney General dropped criminal charges against Zig Ziegler, in exchange for a plea of guilty to two non-designated offenses for soliciting an unregistered agent to sell securities in his former company. All charges against Ziegler were dismissed and a plea agreement reached after Ziegler was able to demonstrate through financial records that investor funds which were under his control with his former company were used as he had advised investors and lenders they would be used.
Ziegler had always contended that he was not a co-conspirator of anyone's criminal activity in the case and is relieved to put the situation behind him and to be able to get back to a normal life of helping people recover from injuries and improve their quality of life and sport performance.
In an effort to avoid a long drawn out legal process and put the matter behind him, Ziegler reached the Plea Agreement. Under the plea agreement, Mr. Ziegler will be required to be complete unsupervised probation and to repay some of the investors and lenders. Upon successful completion of probation, the offenses are to be classified as misdemeanors upon designation by the court as part of the plea.