Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 3/30/12
Before Mar. 31, 2011, Frank McCourt and Bryan Stow had little in common. McCourt was a Boston businessman and the unpopular owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Stow was a paramedic from Santa Cruz, Calif., and a fan of the rival San Francisco Giants. Saturday is the one-year anniversary of the day McCourt and Stow became linked forever. At the nadir of McCourt's unpopularity, with the iconic franchise barreling toward bankruptcy, Stow suffered brain damage in a brutal attack as he exited Dodger Stadium. The incident became national news and an emotional flash point. At times, it was hard to separate the compassion for Stow and disgust for McCourt. The narrative was both powerful and convenient: McCourt was running the team on the cheap while going through an expensive divorce. Many said that left inadequate security in the stadium and parking lots. Americans saw the photograph of Stow with his two children, a poignant image tinged with tragedy. Their blood boiled. For days, there was a real possibility that Stow would not survive. The Dodgers and Giants raised money for Stow's family and spoke out against fan violence. While the manhunt for two suspects went on, the public needed to blame someone . That someone was Frank McCourt. One year later, two men are awaiting trial, Stow is in the midst of a slow recovery, and McCourt is on his way out. McCourt announced Tuesday that he's agreed to sell the Dodgers for $2.15 billion to a group that includes controlling partner Mark R. Walter, longtime sports executive Stan Kasten and NBA legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson. It may be too soon, though, to assign a legacy to an incident that reverberated throughout the national consciousness. For one thing, the legal system has yet to have its say: In addition to the criminal case against Stow's alleged attackers, Stow filed a lawsuit against the Dodgers. Tom Girardi, one of Stow's attorneys, said in an interview this week that Stow, 43, is seeking approximately $57.5 million for pain, suffering and disability. The Dodgers participate in a Major League Baseball insurance program that should protect them against cases of this type. If there is a judgment against the Dodgers, it's likely to be covered by such a policy. Financially speaking, Stow and McCourt are in drastically different circumstances. Girardi said Stow was forced to leave a top-notch rehabilitation facility in Santa Clara and move to a lesser place because his insurance money ran out. "We have no more money," Girardi said. "We're in a much more difficult rehabilitation setting than we were before." McCourt, meanwhile, could walk away from the sale with a profit of hundreds of millions of dollars - and maybe more. Girardi said he's hopeful the new ownership group will "do the right thing - meaning settle." The Dodgers may agree to do that, to avoid the public-relations catastrophe of a trial right at the beginning of what seems to be a new era of optimism surrounding the franchise. When asked about Stow one day after the purchase agreement was announced, Johnson told ESPN, "Our prayers are still with him. It's not good for the person who got attacked or the Dodger organization. It was a nationwide, worldwide story. It also shed a bad light on our great city. What we want to do is make sure that doesn't happen again. Did we have enough security? If we didn't, we'll beef up the security." The omnipresence of that question - Do we need to do more to keep our fans safe? - might be the most positive impact Stow has made to the sports world. Many teams reassessed their security practices in the wake of the incident. No one will know how many deaths or injuries have been prevented as a result.
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