May 12, 2010, 8:43 AM EDT
Houston Texans linebacker and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Brian Cushing failed a performance-enhancing drug test last year. The offending substance: hGC, the female fertility drug that snagged Manny Ramirez last year. Cushing tested positive back in September, but the news of all of this — and his suspension — is only hitting now.
Fellow Houston star Lance Berkman had some words to say about all of that yesterday:
I will say what will be interesting will be to see the reaction
because generally when that happens to a football player it is kind of
ho-hum. You write a story about it and he serves his four games and nobody
will ever say anything else about it. If that happens to a baseball
player, they want to strike him from the record book. It’s a totally
different reaction, and I’m not sure why that is, but I will be
following this just to see.
And it is a totally different reaction. Cushing is the third NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year to be suspended
for performance-enhancing substances in the last eight seasons, following Julius Peppers and Shawne Merriman. The equivalent to this in baseball would be if Evan Longoria, Ryan Howard and Hanley Ramirez all tested positive for PEDs. If that had come to pass Congress would be involved, columnists would have their heart medication doubled and we would all be forced to think of the children under penalty of law.
In football? No big whoop. No one wringing their hands over the NFL’s obvious PED problem. No one excoriating the league for having a testing and appeals procedure that allows for a five-month lag between the failed test and the appeal and another three month delay between the appeal and the decision, all of which allowed a known-PED user to play the games in which he won the Rookie of the Year award in the first place.
A Rookie of the Year award, it should be noted, that the writers just this afternoon decided
to allow Cushing to keep
despite the fact that he had tested positive for a banned substance
before the season started. Why can he keep it? According to multiple writers who voiced their views on it before the re-vote, it’s because other guys on PEDs have won the award in the past.
One of them — ESPN’s Adam Schefter — is basically serving as Cushing’s P.R. team. He thinks that the fact that Cushing took a lie detector test and passed, he shouldn’t be suspended. This despite the facts that (a) lie detector tests are essentially useless; (b) this lie detector test was obviously set up by Cushing’s camp for P.R. purposes; and (c) unless the NFL itself is lying, Cushing lied during his lie detector test.
Schefter also suggests that maybe Cushing’s positive test was the result of flogging the bishop. Can you imagine if, say, Peter Gammons offered the masturbation defense when Manny Ramirez tested positive?
Another ESPN guy — Mark Schelerth — thinks that Cushing shouldn’t lose his award because “we don’t know for certain” that he took a PED (note: really?). This despite the fact that the league has already completed its apparently exhaustive appeals process and suspended the guy. “The banned substantces list is so long!” Schelerth basically says. “How is it possible that a player could know what he could or could not take!” I mean, sure, Cushing went to USC so he probably has some sort of learning disability, but he makes a lot of money and can afford to hire someone to read the list for him.
Look, I’ve been called a PED apologist more times than I can count, but that’s because (a) I don’t think that guys who take PEDs should be demonized and shunned; and (b) I don’t think that attempting to re-write the record books is either possible or advisable. But I’ve never argued that the league shouldn’t suspend guys who test positive, and I’ve never trafficked in the world of apparently baseless excuses for what appears to be clear rules violations. This, however, appears to be par for the course among the NFL commentariat. Which is fine. Their sport, their problems, their opinions.
In light of them, however, I’d really prefer it if, next time baseball has a PED story, these people don’t come out of the woodwork talking about how awful baseball’s PED problems are.
- 2015 Preview: Minnesota Twins 0
- 2015 Preview: Philadelphia Phillies 17
- 2015 Preview: Cincinnati Reds 42
- The average Major League Baseball salary this year will be more than $4 million — a record 22
- 2015 Preview: Tampa Bay Rays 20
- The Cubs assign Kris Bryant and Addison Russell to the minors, option Javier Baez as well 70
- 2015 Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks 8
- 2015 Preview: Toronto Blue Jays 69
- Ex-Cardinals outfielder Curt Ford was assaulted in St. Louis and told to “go back to Ferguson” (122)
- David Ortiz: “Nobody in MLB history has been tested for PEDs more than me” (118)
- Rob Manfred says it would be hard to reinstate Pete Rose in a limited way (91)
- The MLBPA releases a statement on Kris Bryant, mentions possible litigation (90)
- Did David Ortiz admit to more than he realized with his Players’ Tribune editorial? (88)