Does the NFL Have a Steroid Problem?

John LewisSenior Writer IApril 16, 2008

Stephen Cooper of the San Diego Chargers gets caught taking an illegal substance and suspended for the first four games of next season. No front page in the papers or top story on ESPN sportscenter?

Cooper is the starting inside linebacker for the Bolts and led the team in tackles last season with 179.  He said in a statement that he took a recently banned stimulant and apologized to his team and made it clear that no banned substances were taken before this past offseason.

Now while in college, Cooper did admit to possessing steroids while being a passenger of a car that was pulled over by police.

This is the second time that a Chargers linebacker has been suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Shawne Merriman served a four-game suspension in 2006 after testing positive for steroids.

So are steroids in the NFL quickly becoming a problem?

We've heard of several prominent players being suspended for banned substances and there is little press about it.  So how often does the NFL test its players?  Maybe there is more under the surface than we think.

In a sport with so much constant intensity, there could be more players loading up on these stimulants than is reported.  Maybe I'm reading too much into this but I'm sure that many of the sport's big names are taking something that no one knows about.

Is the media being hypocritical about steroids?

If a big name major league baseball player was suspended for any banned substances it would headline sports pages and ESPN but when a pro bowl NFL player is suspended there is just one line on the sports ticker.

But the biggest question is whether fans really care.  While parents want to teach their children the dangers of steroids, do the die hard sports fans really care if their favorite player gets busted?

You tell me!