Woody Paige named 35th biggest creep in sports by Bleacher Report

Bleacher Report recently assembled its list of the 50 biggest creeps in sports, featuring the likes of Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger prior to the top dog, former Baylor coach Dave Bliss. And repping Colorado? Not just ex-Bronco Travis Henry and Kobe Bryant, for that little rape controversy in Eagle a few years back, but also Denver Post columnist and ESPN regular Woody Paige -- and not for this 2010 photo of him publicly sucking face.

Instead, article author Sam Westmoreland references a lawsuit from several years back. Here's his Paige blurb:

In 2007, Paige, a former Denver Post columnist turned ESPN analyst, was accused, along with Cold Pizza co-host Jay Crawford, of sexually harassing a female make-up artist.

The charges were dropped, but not before the rumblings of Paige acting like a horny teenager spread across the sports world.

Plus, I didn't know it was actually possible to be wrong 100 percent of the time. I guess blind squirrels don't always find nuts, do they?

Regarding the suit, it's not the only complaint of its type leveled against Paige over the years, as we pointed out in our 2007 item "Three Pages Woody Would Rather Forget." Back in 1992, Paige stepped down as the Post's executive editor after assistant Carrie Ludicke complained about him verbally abusing her, including calling her a "cunt" during an argument. That same year, the American Journalism Review estimated that Ludicke received a settlement in the $25,000-$30,000 range.

Page down to read two items about the Ludicke matter, both of which predate our web archives. First up is a Patricia Calhoun column in which she documents a pair of previous efforts to settle with Ludicke. That's followed by an Off-Limits item noting that Post employees had to attend sexual harassment seminars due to Paige's actions.

"Turn the Paige" By Patricia Calhoun Westword March 18-24, 1992

There are few jobs worse than being the secretary of an egomaniac

But here's one" being the secretary of an egomaniac who happens to be a media "personality."

Thanks to the celebrity boss' personality-packed - and highly profitable - snits and snipings, the secretary is treated to an earful from the public, an outpouring of insults that aren't limited to the star's shortcomings, but quickly move on to include the secretary's. And since all too often the hapless secretary is female, the disgruntled callers inevitably start zeroing in on her anatomy. That's not the way men castigate a man (although they'll often offer some choice bits aimed at their target's mother), but it's almost always how they insult a woman. As though there were no worse way to hurt her than to focus on her form. To get her where she literally lives.

(One female writer here, for example, had the misfortune to be working late - and alone - the night many angry football fans were calling to scream about a story written by a male reporter. Their suggestions for what she could do with her body - and what they planned to do to it - were perversely fascinating, if only because the woman on the receiving end of the calls was nine months pregnant at the time, rendering many of the proposed acts patently impossible.)

When you accept such a job, abuse from outsiders comes with the territory.

The abuse isn't supposed to come from the inside, too. The insults shouldn't be hurled by your employer.

But on Friday, March 6, Carrie Ludicke's boss - the one and only sports editor of the Denver Post - took aim at her with a slew of invective. In the process, you can only hope he shot himself in a most sensitive part of his anatomy. He certainly made an ass of himself.

Ludicke's sin? She'd received some personal financial information Paige had requested from the paper's payroll office and had called KDEN, where Paige co-hosts a talk show, and left the figures with a colleague. Stupid, sure - particularly as few people, Ludicke most certainly included, enjoy the perqs that come with Paige's jobs - but hardly a world-class blunder for an assistant (Ludicke's official title) or a secretary (Paige parlance for her job).

But Paige quickly put his mouth where his money was. He began dressing down Ludicke in the photo department, then moved the verbal abuse to his office. As he called her on the carpet, his language was so loud - and so vulgar - that there was no way the Post could sweep the encounter under the rug.

Because among other things, Paige reportedly called his secretary a "fucking cunt."

This is the "sexual epithet" that Channel 4 referred to so daintily last Thursday.

Judging from the language that appears in the mainstream media, only rap musicians are ever indelicate enough to utter profanity. "But "fuck" is not unknown in a newsroom, and in fact, often liberally sprinkles perfectly civil conversation. The word "cunt," however, does not.

There's no getting around the fact that it's a term that only refers to a woman, and in a far from complimentary way.

The word "cunt" isn't just distasteful. Depending on how it's delivered, it could be illegal.

After a year of he-she controversies of tales filled with Long Dong Silver and Coke cans festooned with pubic hairs, people may have trouble remembering what constitutes sexual harassment. So here's a handy refresher course, courtesy of the Code of Federal Regulations:

"Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when: 1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment: 2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individuals; or 3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment."

No one's suggesting that Paige made a pass at Ludicke. But what he said could be equally actionable. It's certainly inexcusable. Try imagining a work environment less inviting than one in which your boss has called you a "fucking cunt" within earshot of your fellow employees.

Misery may love company, but not that much company.

A sympathetic reporter who heard of the outburst suggested that Ludicke contact the Denver Newspaper Guild, where she filed a complaint. It wasn't the first one lodged against the Post sports department, or even the first to mention Woody Paige. It was, however, the first to allege sexual harassment, says a guild spokesman.

Which could account for why the Post took fast action. Four days after the incident, management offered Ludicke $8,000 and a job anywhere on the paper - so long as she kept quiet. She turned down the deal. On Thursday, she and her guild representative met with Paige and the paper's management. This time the numbers went higher, reportedly to twice her annual salary. To $50,000 - which would pay a reporter's salary. Or pay off Paige's idiocy.

As of Monday, though, the paper still didn't have a deal.

The Post can weather a guild grievance filed against Paige. And it would certainly survive a high-profile civil suit against the sports editor; after all, the word he's accused of uttering - for the record, Paige denies using "cunt," although there's no argument over "fuck" - is common coin in the locker rooms he covers. The sad reality is that for ever reader the paper loses, others might see Paige as the champion of men everywhere who are tired of uppity women.

Ironically, this isn't an image Paige professes to want. Just two weeks ago, he called to complain that no one in the town ever wrote about all the good things he'd done. Things like hiring women in the sports department.

But it doesn't count, Woody, unless you treat them right.

Off Limits April 29-May 5, 1992

And he said that: Just two years ago, Denver Post columnist Woody Paige offered this suggestion for the Nuggets. "Westhead [that's Paul, then the coach at Loyola Marymount] would be perfect at a mile high with his fastest-breaking offense." What was that again? Westhead would be perfect at a mile high."

Last week, of course, Westhead was out as the Nuggets' coach - two seasons, several Paige columns and 120 losses later.

And Paige is still at the Post, although the paper is undergoing an embarrassing series of seminars as part of the Newspaper Guild-arranged settlement of a sexual harassment grievance filed against Paige by his former assistant.

More from our Media archive: "Woody Paige's suicide-plan column best piece to date about Bronco Kenny McKinley's death."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts