The Tarnished Star (Tales of Riverdale fan-fiction)

hobbyfan

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Our next tale is based on real-life events. I'm sure you'll figure it out as we go along. All characters copyright Archie Comics, save for new characters created for this story.
======================
Chapter 1:

Allan Carter was a quarterback drafted in the 4th round out of Coppin State by the Boston Knights. One of his former college teammates, Collin McClendon, was forced to retire due to a neck injury in his senior season, but as a by-product of Carter being signed by Boston, McClendon came along for the ride, hired on as an assistant to defensive coordinator Bud Temple.

Seven years and three championships later, Temple retired, and McClendon was promoted to defensive coordinator, the youngest in the league. What no one knew, however, was the lengths he would go to to keep the Knights on top.

It was week 10. Boston led the North division with a perfect 9-0 record, and had a bye week coming after a road game at Baltimore on national television. However, there were whispers that there was some funny business going on behind the scenes to ensure Boston would be the first undefeated team since Miami in 1972, especially in their last two home games.

Unbeknownst to Knights management, television cameras caught McClendon talking to one of the game officials three hours before game time, and with an envelope in his back pocket. That would prove significant late in the game, because McClendon wasn't up on current rules.

Late in the 4th quarter, Carter lofted a pass to star receiver Rick Tomlin. Baltimore defensive back Chuck Majors went up for the ball, and intercepted. Tomlin fell, and so did a penalty flag. However, Baltimore coach Dave Ocasio saw what happened. Majors was called for pass interference, but Ocasio pulled out a challenge flag.

"Tomlin flopped on the play, knowing he couldn't break up the interception.", Ocasio told referee Jeff Gibson. "It's not pass interference!!"

A replay review confirmed Tomlin's argument, and the Bombers had the ball at their 20 yard line with 3 1/2 minutes left. McClendon was livid on the Knights' sideline, even more so when the Bombers drove the length of the field, and scored the game winning touchdown with 12 seconds left to end the Knights' winning streak, 38-34.

A week later, Majors was lost for the season when he tore an ACL in his left knee trying to get away from a hit & run assailant after practice who tried to run him over. Meanwhile, McClendon was called into the office of Knights owner Arthur Griffin.

"Care to explain this?", he asked, showing McClendon the tape of his bribing one of the officials. McClendon shook his head.

"That zebra turned the money over to the cops.", Griffin continued. "Seems that this has been going on for the last three weeks. Tomlin gets fined for embellishment, and it seems you didn't know you can challenge penalties now in this league. Not that it matters to you, since you're fired as of this second."

McLendon left the office and dropped off his playbook. He hadn't gotten very far when he was arrested by the police on bribery charges.
===============================
Chuck Majors gave the Baltimore police the license plate number of the car that tried to hit him. He'd blown out his knee in a blind alley after he lost his pursuer. The car was registered to McClendon, who lived in the city, but had rented the car out to a friend.

After the bye week, the Knights returned home to play Miami in a rematch of the season opener. With McClendon fired, Bud Temple was brought out of retirement to finish the season. On a rainy Sunday afternoon, Carter passed for 2 touchdowns, and ran one in himself, but a critical 4th quarter interception turned the game in favor of Miami, which won the game, 31-24.

"With three weeks left,", Carter told Griffin the next day, "we can turn this around."

"I hope so.", Griffin replied. "However, stadium officials are being investigated about some possible shenanigans in the two previous home games prior to yesterday. Nothing we can do about Miami. They collected a receipt for week 1, but we can correct yesterday's mistakes in time for next week at New York."

"Yes, sir."
==================================
Four days later, Temple died of a heart attack, and head coach Milt Grant would take on the task of calling defensive plays the rest of the way. What didn't make sense was how Temple had that heart attack.

"Someone tampered with the mechanism on the treadmill he used today.", Fred Summers, owner of Gold's Gym in Boston, told police investigators. Boston Globe reporter-photographer Reggie Mantle took pictures of the crime scene, and interviewed gym members who were present.

"Someone jacked up the speed on the treadmill to a point where Temple couldn't keep up because of his advanced age, and he collapsed.", Reggie told his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Veronica Lodge, at Pop's Place later that night. "Rumors are going around that Colin McClendon, who was fired two weeks ago, was seen at the gym earlier in the day. Seems he was put out about being fired."

"Then why go after his mentor?", Ronnie asked. "Why not the owner?"

"Because", Archie Andrews put in, "that would bring more suspicion than he really needs. Seems there's a probe into some misconduct on the Knights dating back a month."

"Right. Griffin made the decision to dismiss McClendon after the loss to Baltimore, and he wields a lot of influence in the league.", Reggie added. "I hear he's personally looking into what craziness has been going on behind the scenes."

"That usually means gambling's involved."

"Not always, Red. I hear the league's media partners try to manipulate certain games because they want a matchup that will bring the most ratings for the title game at the end of the season. The Knights aren't exactly the most popular team, because there's been some shady business following them since their last two titles."
========================================
To be continued.
 
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hobbyfan

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Chapter 2:

Victor Grange was director of officials for the league. His brother, Alex, was a media consultant for the league. Win or lose, the Knights were generating big ratings for the league. Usually, the brothers met for lunch on Wednesdays during the season. Prior to a week 13 game between the Knights and Pittsburgh, however, Victor was unable to make the meeting.

Instead, he was meeting with Eric Clinton, who ran a marketing firm in New York. His company had identified Allan Carter and Rick Tomlin as the Knights' biggest stars, and wanted them to promote various products, from breakfast cereal, to gasoline. To make that happen, however, the Knights could not afford any more losses.

"They have to run the table all the way to the league championship.", Clinton said. "That's where the real money is."

Victor Grange liked that idea. What he didn't know was the meeting was under surveillance.
==================================
Two days later, Grange had posted the assignments for the officiating crews for week 13. Now 9-2 with three games remaining, the Knights were to be given preferential treatment to ensure they get back to the title game. Grange promised some extra money in each official's paycheck the following week for the team working the Knights-Pittsburgh game at Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, Clinton had an unscheduled meeting................

Clinton returned to his New York townhouse around 9 after a early evening dinner meeting with his bosses. He found that the door had been jimmied open, and that the intruder, whomever it was, had not yet left the building. Clinton reached into a bureau drawer, and pulled a handgun.

"Come out, come out, whomever you are!", he called. He repeated this three times. No answer.

Assuming the intruder had in fact departed, Clinton replaced the gun, and repaired to his bedroom. Almost immediately, he was set upon by the Black Hood, who placed him in a choke hold.

"What gives you the right to decide who wins and loses in sports?", the Hood asked. No answer. Clinton was already out.

Gathering up the evidence she already found, the Hood bound Clinton, and left a note for the police to find.
===================================
The next day, NYPD raided the offices of Sure Thing Marketing, Clinton's company, and found more evidence linking Clinton to some suspicious behavior involving Knights staff. The biggest link? Collin McClendon.

Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, the officiating team was interviewed by Federal detectives. They referred all questions to their boss, Victor Grange, who was back in New York.

Around 7 pm, Grange was in a meeting with McClendon, unaware that they were being watched. By Pureheart the Powerful & Black Hood, who had the meeting site staked out.

"I see it, but I'm not going to say I don't believe it.", Pureheart said. "There've been rumors regarding the league in recent years."

"And now, justice is finally coming due.", the Hood replied. "Let's take them."

By the time Grange & McClendon left the restaurant, they found their bodyguards already beaten, and Federal agents waiting for them. Special Agent Rod McDonald handcuffed Grange personally.

"I've waited five years for this moment.", he said. "You're under arrest."

Grange, Clinton, & McClendon were all charged with conspiracy to defraud the public, racketeering, and bribery, adding to the bribery charge McClendon was already facing. His bail had been revoked.
=====================================
The Boston-Pittsburgh game went off without a hitch. With Grange out of the picture, the officials called the game the right way, and donated their game checks to charity. Boston snapped its two game losing streak in a tight game that came down to an overtime field goal, 27-24. However, they would lose their last two, and would be eliminated from the playoffs in the conference finals.
=======================================
When the case went to trial, Allan Carter was a star witness for the prosecution. McClendon, he said, fell into debt, and began his business deal with Clinton, an ex-con, and Vic Grange, who was fired by the league. McClendon and Grange kept lying to the league about all the irregularities, though, and the games went on.

Arthur Griffin testified that he'd gotten complaints about how the Knights had won the last two titles, and vowed to investigate those complaints. The first step was cutting McClendon, but that wasn't enough. An anonymous tip led him to Grange and Clinton.

There was nothing the league could do about the previous titles, but they banned McClendon for life, and cut ties with Sure Thing Marketing. Alex Grange turned state's evidence on his own brother, then resigned from the league himself.
=========================================
The following fall, the Knights' home opener, a rematch vs. Pittsburgh, went to overtime again, but this time, Pittsburgh won the game on a last second touchdown. Carter, now player-coach after Milt Grant retired, injured his throwing arm in the game, separating his shoulder. He decided not to play the rest of the season, and concentrate on coaching. Boston went 9-5 again, and was eliminated in the first round.

Two yeas later, Carter wrote a book about his experiences dealing with the unsavory types that polluted the league, thankful they'd been driven out.

Ah, but if only he knew that there would be others, and things wouldn't change......!
==========================================
To be concluded.
 
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hobbyfan

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Chapter 3:

After nearly 10 years in Boston, Allan Carter signed a free agent deal with Key West. Boston tried to fill the void by signing Doug Hawkins as a free agent to replace Carter, but the Knights finished 7-7 and missed the playoffs.

After a stunning loss to Kansas City, Key West went on a winning streak that saw them reach the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. However, in the conference championship game vs. Milwaukee, some very inconsistent officiating got in the way of what was a tight, dramatic game.

In the 2nd quarter, Milwaukee QB Adam Burke's pass is tipped and intercepted by Joey Wise for Key West. Wise's brother, Connor, had pushed aside the intended receiver, Rick Cirman, but no flag. However, time expired before Key West could cash in. The referees were letting them play, as they often did in the postseason.

But, before the start of the 3rd quarter, referee Cedric Bailey announced that his team made a mistake in not calling pass interference on Wise, and penalized Key West by taking away the 2nd half kickoff, and awarding it to MIlwaukee. The foul was that blatant. In the 4th quarter, Key West's top receiver, Mike Turner, was interfered with, and the flag came down, which cost Milwaukee the game. Key West would advance to the title game. Or would they? A 2nd flag came down. The officials huddled. Key West tight end Mitch Belinski had committed offensive interference on the same play, and that was ignored. Milwaukee coach Eric Siemen challenged the no-call, and won. The fouls offset.

Linesman Lou Pence was nervous. He had missed two blatant penalties that had to be called late. With a minute remaining, he called a phantom offsides call on Milwaukee. Siemen challenged that call, too, and said that Pence was so scared of something, whatever it was he didn't know. Pence denied it, daring Siemen to confront him about it. The offside was not enforced. Bailey had Pence removed from the game. Carter took a knee, and Key West won the game. Carter, though, was not happy, and confronted Pence himself after the game.

"What in the Sam Hill is your problem?", Pence asked when Carter came near.

"Glad as I am we won the game, we could've done without you trying to throw the game in our favor. I've a pretty good idea who you're really working for, and I'd better not see you at the championship game.", Carter replied as he stalked away, angry.

"Oh, you'll see me, alright.", Pence said, snickering.
===================================
10 days before the title game, Betty Cooper, aka the Black Hood, had gotten a letter from her predecessor/mentor, Greg Hettinger, asking her to be in Miami for the title game. Hettinger had gotten a tip that Vic Grange and Eric Clinton were back in business. Hettinger sent Betty two tickets for the game, intended for Hettinger and his wife, Jessica, who was in quarantine.

After briefing Archie on the case, Betty was able to coax him into flying to Miami. Reggie tagged along, as the Globe assigned him to cover the game due to the Carter angle.

Sure enough, three days before the game, Grange and Clinton met with the game officials assigned to the contest. but were kicked out of the hotel by the league officials in attendance. Meanwhile, Archie had arranged for Jughead Jones and Veronica to join the rest of the band in Miami for the halftime show.
===================================
In a stunning last minute move, Lou Pence replaced Susan Murphy as linesman. Murphy was found bound & gagged in an alley not far from the stadium by police, who immediately headed for the stadium. after she identified Pence and Clinton as her attackers.

In the 2nd quarter, with Key West already leading 10-3, Carter lofted a pass to Belinski for the latter's 2nd touchdown of the game. However Kansas City coach Arch Franklin threw down the challenge flag. Pence picked it up and gave it back, saying there was no foul on the play. Referee Ted Kyle saw it differently, and heard Franklin's argument. A replay review revealed offensive interference on Belinski, moving the ball back to the 25 yard line. Spotting Pence, Carter called time out and met with his coach, Al Barton.

"I don't like the smell of this.", he said. "That punk (Pence) nearly cost us the last game."

"Why worry, Allan?", Barton asked.

"Because I'd rather win this one honestly."
====================================
At halftime, Key West led, 13-3. When Kyle and his staff reached their locker room, Murphy was waiting for them with the police. Pence tried to deny what happened, but was arrested after another official handed him up. Pence, apparently, had bragged about what he did before he reached the locker room before the game.

On the field, Grange & Griffin made their move, looking to ensure Key West won the game for no other reason than to ensure Carter would be recognized as the greatest player in the league's history. Taking the places of two network cameramen, they trained their gimmicked cameras on Kansas City quarterback Dave Tynes, the league's most marketable player.

What they hadn't counted on was Mystyk making the trip as well. As Tynes ran for 30 yards on 3rd and 15 with two minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, he was struck down by a mysterious shot from one of the cameras.

"Grab the (expletive) ball!", Griffin called out to Key West defensive back Josh Synes. But it was too late. Tynes had already recovered his own fumble.

Two plays later, Griffin trained his camera on Tynes again. This time, though, Mystyk blocked the shot with a psi-bolt, damaging the camera, and revealing a hidden laser gun inside. Griffin & Grange were arrested on the spot.

On his sideline, Carter could see what was happening, as did Coach Barton.

"I thought the league had gotten rid of those losers.", Carter said.

That one play turned the game around in Kansas City's favor, and they won the game, 23-20.

As the two quarterbacks met at the 50 yard line, Carter apologized for what happened.

"It should never have happened this way.", he said quietly.
=======================================
The next day, Carter announced his retirement. His next book would be an autobiography.

Back in Riverdale, the gang were thankful the case was finally closed.

"The problem was never Allan in the first place.", Archie said. "It was those weasels who wanted to exploit him to further their own ambitions. Would do the same, too, with Tynes if they didn't get caught."

"The other issue, though, does have to do with Allan.", Reggie replied. "All of his title runs have been tainted because the referees are getting instructions from people like Grange to throw the games to make the biggest stars more than they really are. It's never going to end, Arch, because there'll always be someone to fill the void unless the league changes."

"And we have to hope they do."
===========================================
The end.
 

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