When all was finally said and done on the subject of Brian Cushing’s AP Rookie of the Year honor and the subsequent revote, Cushing lost 19 votes but kept his award. The reason? Some of the AP writers felt that by re-casting their vote for Cushing would be vote against the re-vote process. In other words, their ego’s dropped the ball.
Writers, o.k., “real” writers (in other words not a hack like me) have very large ego’s that bruise very easy. We see this especially ring true in sports. The MLB Hall of Fame voting is ridiculous and controlled by the writers who cover the sport, even the NFL Hall of Fame has it’s short list eligible’s represented and voted on by writers. So is it any surprise that they hold themselves to a higher standard? Of course not.
This is not an article knocking mainstream media. In fact it’s far from it. While we in the “blog” world are comprised of wannabe writers and forum hacks who find it fun, the truth is these guys usually went to college and majored in journalism and have fought their way up the ladder by hitting their feet to the street. So they have an opinion that many people respect.
In this case however, their opinions on a flawed system have failed the system. They say they “sent a message” but the message they sent is wrong. In Cushing’s case, they simply screwed up and had a chance to send a resounding message. “Don’t ‘EF’ with sportsmanship”!
Cushing tested positive for a non-steroidal substance that is almost always used as a steroid counterpart. It’s used in the recovery phase of coming off the roid’s. He tested for this substance in September of his rookie season of 2009. After appeals and a season long drag out, Cushing will begin the 2010 season on suspension for 4 games. All stemming from his September test of last year.
So while Cushing managed to finish off a season that netted him a very lucrative incentive award and the prestige of being the top rookie on the defensive side of the ball, the AP writers had a choice. Allow him to keep the award, tainted as it was, or re-vote. They chose the latter but ended up giving him the former.
While the NFL drug system is flawed, allowing any player to test positive and play an entire system is seriously flawed, the reality is that on another level, writers have an opportunity to morally correct that system. Stripping Cushing of that honor sends the message that they are not playing around. That they hold athletes to a different standard. Are these not the same writers who completely blast a player for DUI? Spousal abuse? For being named Terrell Owens?
O.k. so pumping your body full of dope is far from driving drunk or slapping your wife around, but we are talking about game integrity here. You know the same game integrity that Bill Belichick used to employ before his team stopped going to the Super Bowl every year. Funny how the AP let that slide after a month or so as well when the well of information suddenly dried up.
Basically it comes down to this. Writers will destroy you if it sells papers or print. They will rip you apart for throwing a tantrum in the dugout after you blow a no-hitter. Rip you for sleeping with a hundred woman while playing golf and expect you to plead with them to tell you why you did it, who you did it with, and how it was. But slap the game in the face directly, and it’s the system that is flawed and it’s the system that needs to be fixed. And that is the message that you are sending?
So hear this youngsters who want to play sports. Don’t hit your girlfriend after you have slept with a porn-star, and then whatever you do don’t throw a cooler of Gatorade at anyone but the coach, don’t drink while driving a car, and whatever you do, don’t be a Prima-donna who won’t speak to the media. But if you really want to get an edge and take out your frustrations. Take some steroids, then mask it, pay a friend to pee for you, and have a great career.
The point is simple. None of it is o.k. But the integrity of the game is often the one thing that should be held pure above all else. Personal indiscretions aside, in sports, it’s about the sport and not what you do outside of it. That is why Lawrence Taylor and O.J. Simpson are still in the Hall of Fame.
What Brian Cushing did was cheat. His “steroid” use didn’t just hurt himself physically, it hurt the game, the structure of the game. He cheated. He took advantage of the off-season testing policies to get better quicker then took a recovery agent that allowed him to perform at a high-level. And he got caught.
It seems that no one really cares about how the game is treated anymore. In any sport. Money is ruling factor in it all. Should send a pretty strong “message” to the future stars.
O.k. I’m off my soap box…for now.