It was just a little over two years ago I wrote an article on Catchfence.com in which I praised Elliott Sadler, the driver that I had followed since the '97 season and his team's great attitude and frankly, most everything associated with Elliott at that time. I wrote this article after seeing him win a race live at TMS, and the last thing on my mind back then was that it just very well maybe the last opportunity to see that again. My what can change in such a short time.
But what really has changed for the 'Southern Gentleman'? A few observations from one of his original fans.
* All his life he has rarely had to endure much real adversity and it shows today. A common theme with the Sadlers is the 'its not my fault’ syndrome. We saw it with his older brother and his continual sponsorship issues, and we saw it with Elliott with his Wood Brothers departure, and are seeing it today with RYR. We even hear it with the almost weekly whining about the car's perfomance.
* While there is little to complain about the work of his spotter on race days, the job that the very same person does as 'personal manager' leaves one scratching their heads. It seems that like the driver, winning a couple of races, and a few poles has gone to their collective heads. And sadly when they don’t get the value for an item that they have put for sell on Ebay, there is always 'spotter38' there to shill the bid and jack that price up. Note to Brett, if you are going to commit such an illegal act, at the very least come up with a name that won’t connect you.
* To go along with the above, there is the ever-present ruse of 'a portion will go to charity' excuse. Not only were the guidelines of Ebay Charitable Sales not followed, and when legitimate questions by your own fan club members concerning this auction, the deflections and sweeping under the carpet was so prevalent that the very place that the item was advertised had to be censored and eventually shut down. (Of course, to be re-opened later for a posting privilege fee) If there was nothing to hide, then why was this needed?
* Even the Elliott and Hermie Sadler Foundation itself were questioned by a number of SFC members and to my knowledge not one of those legitimate and legal questions were answered. In fact, the spin Brett via email put on this was 'if you are a true fan of Elliott, you know about his foundation'. That is an interesting way of putting it Brett. In other words, you want members of the SFC to blindly drink the Kool-aid you and Elliott serve up. While that maybe fine for 'huge fans' (as Brett put it), but for others who actually want to know where their charitable donations go, that dog just won't hunt. Sadly what Brett didn't have the smarts to understand, was that almost every 'foundation information' question asked, the answers were available at www.give.org and www.guidestar.org/. The fact that Brett refused to disclose this information speaks volumes for the deceptiveness and nature of these fund-raising tactics. Months after the Ebay auction and the transaction had been completed, Brett could not (or would not) answer just what was the exact percentage of the gross sale that actually went to the Foundation. Even today, this question has been refused to be answered.
* Along with the above of course there is the 'greed' factor. As far as I can tell, the preliminary price for being a 'true Sadler fan' is 15 bucks ($20 if you have a family) and this get you what? For starters a nice little 'bag of stuff' usually comprised of surplus fan club items. But it doesn't stop there!
* The Southern Gentleman really only had one rule when it came to his Fan Club, and that was to "leave Elliott's private and personal life alone". Who can really complain about wanting that? Seems very reasonable to me, until the public post and even a write up on the Fan Club website promoting Elliott's official 'MY SPACE' account. Brett, did you really think this one out? It is understandable that you wanted to get rid of the 'fake' MS Elliott accounts, but you had no clue that you could have done that without signing up for an account. The simple fact is that you and Elliott got sucked into the MS world and by doing that (along with your other few of Elliott's 'incognito' accounts) have opened Pandora's box concerning Elliott's private life. From the 'doesn't drink' comment to the 'its all about the Benjamins' comment only further fuels the fire that this Southern Gentleman is a lot less honest than we have been led to believe. (BTW, that is a really flattering picture of you and Jamie Mac posing at the lake. For someone that doesn’t drink, Elliott, you sure do hold that bottle of Bud well)
* So now in 7 short years, not only has Elliott broke not one, but two contractual agreements with his car owner(s). Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. This season and with your recent exit announcement, I will judge you just as I judged the driver whose seat you took. You both have about the same amount of integrity these days; remember all the 'I am happy at RYR' comments? You should be able to, after all you made them just a few months ago. Like the former driver, you strung out your owner with public comments, yet your actions spoke a different tune. Where is Larry Lacky when you need him? You know, someone that might knock some sense into you. But keep that water bottle ready at all times! Just in case.
As much as it pains me to say, (this is coming from a fan that can tell you the car you passed in the final few laps to earn your first 'top ten' finish in your rookie season) you should be removed from your 'dream job' post-haste, as not only your sponsor, race team and yes, your fans, deserve more of an effort than what your are willing to offer. It maybe 'all about the Benjamins' to you and your spotter, but I would rather be a fan of a driver struggling to stay on the lead lap who has some honesty and integrity, than one that speaks with a forked tongue. Some day you may understand that and someday 'quiet confidence' may return as well. But I am not holding my breath.