30.8.06

Where is the Outrage?

It became beyond obvious* that steroid use in the NFL is just as big, if not more so, in football as is in baseball, cycling, and track when The Charlotte Observer reported Sunday on the use of ‘roids and HGH by various players on the Panthers during their 2004 run to the Super Bowl. This, along with the NFL players that are tied to the BALCO case, makes the NFL testing policy seem like a complete joke. For the NFL to claim that its league is clean while 280 pound men run 40 yards in 4.8 seconds was always fishy. For them to claim it now would be outrageous.

As fans, we shouldn’t be all that surprised. In 1985 the Fridge was literally the biggest sensation to hit Chicago (and the NFL) since Jody Davis. Today I bet he’d be average sized for a defensive tackle. Everyone in the NFL has gotten bigger and faster at the same time, not just a few players, pretty much every player in the NFL. The 280 pound offensive lineman can be found next to the Tyrannosaurs Rex at the Field Museum. The report yesterday is just stating the obvious, or what should have been obvious to us all: NFL players use performance enhancing drugs and substances.

So over the last few days, what has been the response in the sports world? Basically nothing. ESPN.com offers us next to nothing, just a few words from the awesomely famous Tim Known. Rather, the big news for ESPN (and others) is that Jeff George is back in the NFL. Awesome…

Jason Witlock offers up a pretty good piece from the Kansas City Star on Tuesday, but the Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, and New York Times all had nothing on Tuesday (The Sun-Times did run this by Rick Telander today, but it doesn't really deal with the NFL). If this was baseball, I’m sure it’d be in the headlines for the next week (and if you don’t believe me, remember Jason Grimsley? Exactly). Writers like Jason Stark, Tom Boswell, William Rhoden and others would writing about the disgrace that HGH and ‘roids are bring baseball. But when it comes to the NFL, all I’m hearing is crickets.

I’m not sure what bothers me more, that the media holds a double standard for baseball and football ‘reporting’ or the lack of anger from the fans. But then again, in America, baseball is more than a sport. It’s ingrained in our arts, society, and culture. There are no football movies like “The Natural”, “Field of Dreams”, “Bull Durham”, or even “The Sandlot” and “Eight Men Out” (“Little Giants” does not count). American intellectuals and writers don’t pen memoirs, novels, or essays on football like they do on baseball (Take it away George Carlin). Baseball, as is argued in “Bull Durham”, is like a religion to so many. The moment baseball does something even remotely corrupting people are outraged, because it is still viewed as pure and innocent by so many (even after at least one rigged World Series, the 1994 Strike, ‘roids, racism, etc,.) We could discuss why this is another time, but let’s just say this, Jim Brown and Babe Ruth are considered the greatest ever in their sport (by most). In my opinion, Babe Ruth had more in common with Paul Bunyan than he does with say, any living human being. Ruth has become larger than life, a player so good, so dominate that he’s become the stuff of legends and folklore. Brown on the other hand is a regular Joe like you and me. His domination on the gridiron doesn’t transcend our imaginations like Ruth does.

But the NFL is clearly the most popular sport in America. From fantasy football to the regular season to the Super Bowl, pretty much every male in this country follows the NFL (partly because it’s so effin’ easy to follow; once a week, 16 times a year, plus a few playoff games; committing to a NFL team is the sports world equivalent of a one night stand). So why are people pissed off about NFL players injecting HGH and ‘roids into their bodies? Why isn’t ESPN focusing on this rather than stroking TO’s ego every ten minutes? I mean, isn’t the knowledge that NFL players are ‘roiding it up Rafael Palmeiro, Floyd Landis, and Justin Gatlin style a bigger deal than TO? (God it pisses me off to know that TO gets as much coverage as he does. When is ESPN going to learn that a) no one cares and b) you’re just encouraging him?)

It’s frustrating as a fan to sit here and know that the NFL steroid problem won’t get half the coverage that Barry Bonds received, let alone all the coverage of ‘roids usage in baseball.

So expect more of the same from the sports world over the next few days… no raking the NFL over the coals for a poor drug testing policy/enforcement. No blasting the NFL for allowing this to go on while turning a blinds eye to it all. No public witch hunt of players who so and so thinks may have doing HGH during the preseason. It will be business as usual… who’s the starting QB for the Bills? Who blew out their ACL last week and how does that affect my fantasy draft? What are the chances that Brett Favre doesn’t throw 30 interceptions this year? (Of course ignoring the fact that Favre was once addicted to pain killers; will we ever forget that Barry Bonds probably used steroids?)

No, there will be none of that. Just ho-hum, watch us make you watch us on TV this weekend, while the sports writers of America happily drink the NFL Kool-Aid that Jim Jones mixed up for them. It will be great, trust the NFL, because their drug problem is so bad that it’s not even worth reporting.

*(Beyond obvious is sort of stupid I admit, but it’s also fun to use and of course a ‘phrase’ you’d only hear in connection to sports. The ex-roomie is convinced that sports writing and announcing is destroying the English language. By writing ‘beyond obvious’ I just proved him right. And I’m not changing it).

UPDATE: I’ve also checked out the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Daily News, and Denver Post (to go along with the Washington Post, New York Times, and ESPN.com) have had nothing of note on their websites concerning steroids in the NFL (I did find a blog on the Chronicle’s website via GoogleNews). The Chicago Tribune’s Philip Hersh offers up this little splash, but nothing more than a few random thoughts. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bryan Burwell did write a some what stinging column on steroids and the free pass the NFL has gotten/gets with its own ‘roid problem. So basically at this point on Jason Witlock, Bryan Burwell, and Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer have written on ‘roids and the NFL. Amazing how the NFL is getting away with this. Might be time to say to myself what I was saying from 2002-early 2005 – “What goes around, comes around.” And “It will catch up with them in the end.”

6 comments:

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Large quantities of Human Growth Hormone were stolen from a pharmacy in New Jersey weeks before the Giants went to the Super Bowl in 1985 and then again in 1987. Coincidence? I don't think so.

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