Question of the day: Should AP rescind its award to Brian Cushing for rookie defensive player of the year after positive steroid test? [Updated]
[Updated at 12:05 p.m.: The Associated Press has announced that Brian Cushing has won the re-vote and will keep the award. Read more here.]
Four reporters from the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times
If a player is caught using performance-enhancing drugs, he should be stripped of his awards. Simple as that.
Catching cheaters is difficult enough for the NFL with the constant advancements in masking agents and the league's inability to blood test for HGH. When someone is nabbed, the league needs to take full advantage and send a clear message to others who are doing -- or contemplating -- the same thing.
Not only should that player lose his awards from the season in question, but he also should be banned for two more seasons from postseason awards and the Pro Bowl. History has shown, though, that most of those players experience a sharp drop-off in productivity once they're forced to do things the natural way, so maybe the Pro Bowl isn't an issue.
Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune
If Brian Cushing had come out with a plausible excuse as to why he failed a test for prohibited substances, he could have kept his defensive rookie of the year award. But his silence was deafening, disturbing and damning.
It would be helpful to everyone if we knew for certain exactly what Cushing took and why, but he obviously has a good reason to keep it a secret. And if we are to assume that Cushing took a prohibited performance enhancer that he didn’t buy at the mall health-food store, he was not playing on the same level field that other players were playing on.
In fact, he is fortunate he was not suspended during his rookie season — which probably would have prevented him from being given the award in the first place.
Ken Murray, the Baltimore Sun
The AP will, in essence, rescind the award by taking a recount. There is no way Cushing can win in the second ballot as a cheater. The question is, will anyone vote for him at all? If I were voting, I would leave him off the ballot entirely.
Beyond the award, the real loss to Cushing is in bonus money and image. But two other defensive rookies of the year, Shawne Merriman and Julius Peppers, also failed steroids tests in the NFL, and both pass rushers are being paid very lucratively. Cushing will survive.
So how do we discourage performance-enhancing drugs in the NFL and steroids in particular? If the physical threat of health issues down the road isn’t enough, what will work? Here’s my suggestion: Suspend the player for more than four games. Make him sit eight games or, better yet, a full season. Punish the team as well as the player, and see how motivated the team is to clean up this mess. Slaps on the wrist – and awards taken away – are meaningless.
[Updated at 1:38 p.m.:
Ethan J. Skolnick, Sun Sentinel
Fans and media observers have shown little outrage toward performance-enhancing-policy violators in football as compared with those in baseball. And so it was no surprise that Brian Cushing won a re-vote Wednesday and got to retain his NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Should he have?
Of course not.
And the only thing that makes more sense than letting Cushing keep the award, after the revelation that he flunked a league-administered test last September, and his admission that he took a “nonsteroidal” banned substance, which reportedly was a masking agent.
That he is ineligible for awards, including the Pro Bowl, following the 2010-11 season.
So he can receive a reward for his performance in a season in which he apparently cheated, and he can receive one for a season in which he might consistently test clean?
Maybe the league office needs performance enhancers.]
Photo: Brian Cushing with the Texans last August. Credit: David J. Phillip / Associated Press