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Let's not jump the shark on Brian Cushing *updated*


As we all know by know, Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing has been suspended for four games for violating the leagues performance enhancing drug (PED) policy.  The media has even gone so far as to strip Cushing of his Defensive Rookie of the Year (DROY) award and issue a re-vote, that started to take place as soon as yesterday.

There is no way--none--that as one of the 50 AP voters, I can vote for a performance-enhancer as Defensive Rookie of the Year. And I won't.

Sport Illustrated Peter King tweeted this yesterday while the discussion was occurring about a re-vote for the DROY award.  I think this is a bit of a knee jerk reaction by a lot of the national media.  The fact that King says he can't and won't vote for Brian Cushing again because he tested positive for PED's. Well, did you vote for Julius Peppers in 2002, after you knew he was suspended for 4-games during his rookie season? Did you vote for Kevin Wililams on the Defensive All-Pro Team in 2009, while the StarCaps case was still on-going? columnist and Sirius NFL Radio host Adam Schein tweeted that he already sent in his DROY vote for Redskins defensive end/linebacker Brian Orakpo.  This is before everything is clear, and what exactly Brian Cushing popped positive for is clear. Am I the only one who sees this as a knee jerk reaction?

Let's go with what we know.

Brian Cushing tested positive in September of 2009 for violating the league's PED policy. For what, is unknown right now. Cushing contends that it was not a steroid, which is entirely possible.  I know there have been rumors of him juicing since his High School days before USC, but rumors are rumors.  It's possible it was an ingredient with a supplement, it's possible it was a masking agent, it's possible it was Sudafed Nasal Decongestant (yes, this is on the list).

The point is, Cushing was popped in September of 2009. That means once the appeal started, which Cushing did immediately, he was tested once a week for September, October, November, December, and January.  We can assume he played without taking anything those 4 or so months, because his suspension was only 4-games after the appeal was denied.  Cushing even took a lie detector test after he popped positive to try and prove he didn't take a PED.  He passed the lie detector test, but honestly that doesn't mean a whole lot other than Cushing believes he didn't take anything illegal.  Again, which is entirely possible.

I'm not arguing that Cushing shouldn't be stripped of the DROY award and there shouldn't be a re-vote, I'm saying a re-vote should wait a few weeks before it occurs. Doing a re-vote for DROY right now would be akin to voting the NFL All-Pro team after Week 1 of the pre-season. It's going to be a complete knee-jerk reaction. We still don't have all the facts in this case. Cushing can still give the NFL permission to release the information as to what he tested positive for, which there is a big push for him to do. If the AP voters are screaming they should get to do a re-vote because they didn't know all of the facts at the time of the previous DROY voting, shouldn't they avoid the same mistake again and wait until all the facts are to be had?

Since the AP is going through with the stripping and a re-vote of both the DROY and All-Pro outside linebacker position, does this mean they'll also re-vote the All-Pro defensive line position? Kevin Williams is involved in StarCaps, and that was known through all last season. Is the AP going to go back and re-vote the 2002 DROY award that Julius Peppers won, who was popped for PEDs and served a 4-game suspension? Is the AP going to re-vote on the 2005 DROY that Shawn Merriman won, since he popped positive for PEDs in the 2006 off-season?

Is the Hall of Fame committee going to start remodeling their 1970's wing and kicking out all the Pittsburgh Steelers that were part of a team that we now know ran rampant with steroid use?

This is the problem when the media has a knee-jerk reaction like this.

It's a slippery slope.

Where does it end?

UPDATE 9:14 A.M.: According to Adam Schefter, Brian Cushing tested positive for slightly elevated levels of hCG (a non-steroidal substance produced naturally by the body). hCG is in seminal fluid and slightly elevated levels can be discovered in the event that a test occurs soon after ejaculation. hCG can be produced naturally; however it is also on banned lists because it is known agent during steroid cycling.