Normally I pull on my glasses, open up the spreadsheets, and go to town. If you’ve ready any of my work you know that I love numbers, the universal language as they call it, and I sprinkle them liberally through most of my work. Sometimes I also toss in a pulp culture reference or two, I’m always fond of dropping a Jessica Alba or Britney Spears reference, and sometimes I even attempt to draw out a laugh or two with my quirky sense of humor (you can hear more of that each day, Monday through Friday, on the Fanball.com podcast that I co-host with Kyle Elfrink at 8-9 AM, PST). As a result of all of that, I usually avoid outright opinion pieces, but with some of the goings on in the NFL of late I felt it would be worth my time to address some things.
With everyone in the world freaking out about performance enhancing drugs and how their presence has tainted basically a decade worth of accomplishments in major league baseball, it seems to me that football has largely been getting a free pass by fans and the media, and I’m not quite sure why that is. Not to dwell on the negative, but here are a few NFL stories that have made the rounds of late.
The Tragic Death of Steve McNair: It appears that McNair, married with four kids, was having an affair with a 20 year old woman who, it appears, shot him while he slept four times before turning the gun on herself. It does little good to harp on a man who has lost his life, but what he heck was a married man doing running around with a gal who could have almost been his daughter (McNair was 36 years old)?
The DUI/Manslaughter Case of Donte Stallworth: Donte Stallworth was drunk with a blood alcohol level of .126, well above the legal limit in Florida of 0.08, when he struck and killed a pedestrian (there are also unconfirmed reports that he may also tested positive for marijuana). He was forthcoming with the police from the start, a fact that played into the court sentencing him to just 30 days in jail for his crime (he was released six days early for good behavior). I have no idea what kind of penal system we have in the United States these days when you can be drunk and kill someone in your car yet get less time in jail then some months have days, but at least the NFL got it right when commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Stallworth indefinitely, especially since this is not his first run in with the league and its substance abuse policy.
The Buffon – aka Travis Henry: Former star running back Travis Henry is currently awaiting sentencing for his involvement in a cocaine trafficking venture he was busted for being a part of. He likely faces years in jail, potentially up to 10, for his crimes. His lawyer is claiming his client was “duped” into joining the drug ring and therefore should be given a light sentence. Maybe he was also “duped” into having nine children with nine different women as well? Henry is a disgrace to humanity.
The Suspension of Calvin Pace: The Jet’s linebacker tested positive for violating the league’s performance enhancing substance clause – i.e. he got popped for steroids. As a result he was suspended for four games. Of course his defense was the usual – it wasn’t steroids but a tainted over the counter supplement that got him in trouble. Will anyone ever step up to the plate and just admit the truth? You think this excuse would work in baseball?
And that’s kinda the whole point of this rant today. In baseball a player suspected of once upon a time taking steroids is thrown to the wolves. Guys like Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa have all likely had their legacies tarnished to the point that they will never recover, regardless of the fact that none of them ever tested positive for steroids. Yet in the NFL we have a guy suspended for steroids and he’ll be back and playing soon enough with no one giving a rat’s ass as long as he makes plays on Sunday’s. Even worse, the NFL has become a stomping ground not just for cheaters but drug addicts, spousal abusers, womanizers and worse – a place where the on the field violence has seeped into to pretty much every aspect of these players lives to the point where many of them no longer seem capable of making rational, adult decisions. Maybe all you football lovers out there should think of that the next time you down a baseball player for possibly ingesting a PED, because in comparison to what is common place in the NFL anymore, my get-up-out-of-my-seat-outrage at baseball players just doesn’t exist.
By Ray Flowers