CBSN

Where's the Outrage Over Steroids in Football?

This story was written by CBSSports.com national columnist Mike Freeman


Brian Cushing cheated his ass off and you don't care.

The double standard and excuse making for football is alive and well. If this were baseball, and Cushing were bashing homers instead of skulls, there would be presidential inquiries. But this is football. Land of the needle, land of the juice. And you don't care.

Cushing is the promising young linebacker for the Houston Texans suspended four games next season for violating the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy, proving once again that steroids remain as much a part of the NFL's culture as breast enhancement in Hollywood.

Cushing's suspension is a big deal. It's a huge deal. It was yet another shot across the performance-enhancing bow. Just when you think the NFL has gotten beyond its juicy juice 'roid-head era, along comes a case like Cushing's.

What does it say about a league when the Defensive Rookie of the Year is using?

Then again, this has happened before. Shawne Merriman was suspended four games not long after he was named Defensive Rookie of the Year. Julius Peppers earned the same award and was also busted for violating the substance-abuse policy. That means three of football's reigning Defensive Rookies of the Year in the past eight years were suspended by the NFL for using. That's just outright stunning.

A tradition unlike any other ... the PED masters.

I return to something a Hall of Fame coach once told me. For every one or two PED cheats the NFL catches, 10 go free. Maybe 20.

And you still don't care.

There should be calls for Cushing to give his award back. And he should. If he were a man, he would. After all, he earned it completely fraudulently while other defensive rookie candidates (presumably) played within the rules (we think).

Instead, Cushing's cheating was mostly met with silence from fans and many in the media except the Houston Chronicle newspaper (which has to cover it) and Profootballtalk.com (which covers every minutia of the sport).

"Different sport, different standard," wrote the Houston Chronicle, referring to the difference in outrage between football and baseball over PED use. "If Cushing played major league baseball, he'd be all over the news. He'd be the object of ridicule, and his reputation would be gone forever."

If Barry Bonds were suspended for steroid use the message board below would be filled with anger and vitriol. Mark McGwire received a standing ovation from St. Louis fans before the Cardinals' home opener after disappearing into a steroid cloud of shame for years. Cushing gets a pass.

We're all hypocrites in some way, me included. But sports fans are the worst. Fans pick and choose when and for whom they decide to generate outrage and, for whatever reason, NFL players are given lifetime passes for their various moral and criminal trespasses. There were a number of Eagles fans that defended Michael Vick after Philadelphia signed him and all Vick did was run a vast criminal empire.

The minute Plaxico Burress and his shootin' tootin' trigger-ness get out of prison, a team will sign him, and that team's fans will defend him because Burress will be seen as one of them and NFL players get a lifetime transgression pass.

After Merriman was busted he offered some flimsy excuse saying he unwittingly ingested nandrolone. You unwittingly ingest orange juice, not nandrolone. Still, Chargers fans bought the excuse and gave Merriman a pass. He gets one to this day.

Baseball players are held to a far higher standard and the reason why remains a great mystery.

At least someone's expressing outrage over Cushing's actions. Buffalo safety Donte Whitner thinks Cushing should forfeit his award and the NFL should instead give it to his Bills teammate, safety Jairus Byrd.

What Whitner wrote on Twitter:
• "I don't respect [guys] that CHEAT!"
• "They should take his Defensive rookie of the year away!"
• "Give the defensive rookie of the year to Jarius Byrd...he did it the RIGHT way!"
• "In the Olympics...track & field if u win the GOLD but get caught taking roids, what happens? It goes to the 2nd place guy! J. Byrd!"

Self serving for Whitner? Sure. But thank goodness someone cares.

Because you don't.