Steroids in the NFL: Why Are We Turning the Other Cheek?

John MeadusCorrespondent IJanuary 16, 2008

With all the attention paid to Roger Clemens and the Congressional Hearings in baseball it got me thinking, why are we not placing the NFL under the same critical lens? 

Since 2002 more than 30 players have tested positive and have been suspended for use of performance enhancing substances.  

The most notable player suspended for steroid use last year was San Diego Charger linebacker Shawne Merriman.  Merriman is a Pro Bowl-caliber player just three years into the league.  He won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2005 and the Defensive Player of the Year last year. 

However, before the 2006 season started Merriman tested positive for steroids and was suspended for the first four games of the year. 

Four games?  If you test positive for steroids in MLB you get to watch 50 games on your TV and then everyone questions your achievements and your stats for the rest of your career.  Merriman sat out his four games then came back to get 63 tackles and 17 sacks in just 12 games on his way to winning the Defensive Player of the Year.  

I am not trying to diminish Shawne Merriman's accomplishments and talents—he is one of the best players in the NFL.  But why do we not throw him under the bus like we do all of these baseball players?  Guys like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens haven't even tested positive for drug use and yet people are ready to ostracize by way of indelible asterisks and seize CY Young Awards. 

I am in no way defending Bonds and Clemens—I think they must be held guilty until proven innocent.  Anyway, we will have a better idea of the whole picture when Clemens heads to D.C. in a couple weeks.

As much as I don't like to admit it, being a NY Jets fan, Jason Taylor had a point that no one fully considered.  The DE of the Miami Dolphins had one of his best years in the NFL and came in 2nd in the voting to Merriman for the DPOY.  Taylor came out at a press conference to point out that Merriman should never have won the award because he cheated and used steroids. 

But no one paid Taylor any attention.  Everyone dismissed his comment as a show of jealousy.  Meanwhile, Curt Schilling comes out and says that Clemens's CY Young Awards should be taken away if he is caught using steroids, and everyone eats it up. 

So why does everyone turn the other cheek when a football player tests positive?  Maybe because Merriman is the only big name player to have been caught so far, or maybe it's because people want to see the hard hits and the speed on the field.  But I think it all comes down to one thing: money.  Players use steroids to get an edge on other players, coaches look the other way so they win games and keep there jobs, and owners don't breathe a word because these players and coaches put the fans in the stands and that means money.

I think that steroid use might be as bad, if not worse, in the NFL as in MLB.  This is a big problem in sports today and no one is paying attention.  Plus, it's not just a professional problem anymore...

Steroid-use is now prevalent on college and high school teams, and something needs to be done to keep these drugs away from our young athletes.  Hopefully the Congressional Hearings will result in a plan to test players at all levels and make sure that this problem doesn't get any worse. 

I don't know why we don't pay any attention to steroids in football while in baseball the issue is a considerable concern.  Maybe someone else can offer an answer?