When Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing was found to have had the hormone hCg in his bloodstream, controversy soon ensued. The hormone is a banned substance for players in the National Football League because it can be used as a masking agent for steroid users. It is also used to increase fertility amongst men.
Cushing had a 2009 rookie season that saw him named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press. The AP also named him AFC Defensive Player of the Week and Month twice each, as well as tabbed him as a Second Team All-Pro.
He had tied for the lead of most tackles in the AFC Division with Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis, and had four sacks and interceptions along with a safety. It led him to being voted as a also starter for the AFC in the Pro Bowl.
The AP expressed rage and disappointment in Cushing, a player suspected of using steroids since high school. They took it so far to attempt to revoke his Rookie of the Year Award by calling for a re-vote. When he still retained the award by winning the second vote, it made the AP look even more ridiculous an entity.
This is the same organization that voted Bill Belichick NFL Coach of the Year in 2007 after being accused of cheating himself. He was fined $500,000, the largest amount ever levied on a coach in league history, after admitting his guilt. His team was fined an additional $250,000. It is a moment of NFL history that still creates much debates and brings out the ire of many football fans.
The sudden interest of fair play by the AP must be dealt with the scrutiny of a raised eyebrow. It also brings into question the real intent, as "publicity stunt" appears to be written all over the Cushing case. Though the acts of Cushing and Belichick vastly differ, the common thread is that they both broke the rules.
Though Cushing still maintained his Rookie of the Year Award, the AP still rescinded his Second Team All-Pro honor. It was perhaps a petulant act of a child feeling they suddenly were empowered to justify what they felt was right for the game. Yet Belichick's award remains unscathed and unquestioned.
The writers who participated in this fraud just made a stronger case as to why only the players and coaches, the people who truly know and understand the game, should be involved in the voting of all of their awards.
This includes induction into Canton, a voting process severely mired in politics as inferior players get in ahead of superior players because they got along with the voters better. Favoritism is the mission of the writer for both the players and their own image and ego, not for the betterment of the game itself.
Cushing, instead of keeping his mouth closed in quiet relief, felt it necessary to continue this circus. He recently held a press conference and stated, “I want to make it known that I did not inject or ingest any illegal substances that would enhance my performance. The question of how it got into my body is still unclear.
“It’s something I’m very concerned about, just the fact of how it’s there and what’s going to deter it from happening again. And that’s something that we’re going to have to medically investigate.”
“When everything first came out, I was completely unfamiliar with hCG,” Cushing claims. “I was told that the only way it can get into your body, and, obviously, everyone having their different opinions, was that it was either through injection or through a tumor.
“I know that I didn't ingest or inject anything. I played the whole season thinking I had tumors and this could not only be my last season but my last year.”
His agent, former NFL player Tom Condon, then supported his client by stating Cushing had been seeing experts last season about possibly having cancer. Experts, though they agree hCg can cause cancer, say it would be surprising for someone who tested positive in October not to have felt some sort of abnormal mass in his testicles.
The Texans offered no comment to the recent Cushing press conference, which can be construed as damning by their silence. Even with Cushing's claims. His need to hold a press conference was a baffling move, considering history will still show him as the winner of the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.
History will also show how the Associated Press went from backing one rule breaker to turning against another in two short years. Their credibility holds about much sound footing as Cushing himself right now. Perhaps it is best both parties go back to where they came from and stay silent from now on.