Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Curiouser and Cursiouser: Steroids and the NFL in 2010

Brain Cushing is a jerk.

If he did what we all think he did, than the above statement is true. He would be a jerk, cheater and a liar. That would not be up for debate.

But what about Shawn Merriman? Or Dana Stubblefield? Or Bill Romanowski? Or any of the other hundreds of NFL players?

This is not to absolve Cushing. If he did take a banned substance, than everything that happens afterward, he brought on himself, including losing the NFL Rookie of the Year.

But was Merriman's Rookie of the Year taken away from him? Or was Stubblefield's? Nope.

Why all the hate on Cushing now?

For years, players of the NFL seemed to ride with out much hoopla when they got busted for steroids. In 2005, 60 Minutes reported that NFL players were prescribed steroids....and no one seemed to react at all. Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi...all major news. The NFL....shrug.

Until now.

When Will Smith and Calvin Pace and Charles Grant last year for violating the Substance Abuse Policy, did anyone care? No, it was more of a nuisance, "damn, my team is without him for 4 games!" What about when Jason Ferguson got busted? Do you even remember that? Rodney Harrison? Marcus Stroud? Shaun Rogers?

The only thing different about Brian Cushing is that he was white and successful. A burgeoning star. Ryan Tucker, another white NFL player was a fine player, but not a 1st round draft pick and a Rookie of the Year. Same with Eric Ainge. He was never a big name, big ticket guy. Cushing is.

Did the media feel they needed to treat Cushing differently? Did they have hopes pinned on him? Or did they want to trample him harder than they wanted to, say Shawn Merriman or Rodney Harrison—who now has a voice of authority position on NFL Night in America—because, the media, mostly white guys, felt the need to hit one of their own race harder?

Is that why they are clambering for a re-vote of the Rookie of the Year vote?

It's impossible to say. Perhaps race had nothing to do with it at all. But what is true is that Shawn Merriman was busted for hard steroid use and no re-vote was taken. And Cushing was busted for "...elevated levels of hCG...The level that he tested positive for was so low that it would not have been considered a positive test even a year ago." Also, "Cushing was tested randomly numerous times throughout the season and never tested positive again." And it is headline news for days.

Again, this is in no way to absolve Cushing. But it is curious that after years of benign neglect from the media and the public in general—even after big name players were caught—suddenly people seem to care.

Very curious.

1 comment:

Pete S said...

I think this is a reaction from the NFL stemming from the MLB situation. It seems as though the rampant steroid use in baseball has ebbed away, so the NFL is trying to demonstrate that it takes the issue seriously. Hence, the added penalty on Cushing versus players who were caught before him.

I have no idea how many NFL players use banned substances, but I suspect that it is a high percentage. Football is extremely violent by its nature...far more so than baseball. I believe that a high percentage of football players need it primarily not to enhance their performance, which I believe was the impetus for most baseball players using steroids and other PED's, they need it to play period. It will continue to go on, and the NFL, media, and everyone else involved will continue to "play the game."