NFL is Culpable in StarCaps Case

Alvin BrownContributor IMay 24, 2009

DETROIT - DECEMBER 07:  (L-R) Kevin Williams #93 and Pat Williams #94 of the Minnesoa Vikings in action during the NFL game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 7, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan.  The Vikings defeated the Lions 20-16.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Let’s take for example that I invite you to my home knowing that my stairs have a shoddy third step, but fail to let you know about it. When you step on that damaged board and have an accident, should I as the homeowner be more liable for your accident because I withheld information that could have prevented the accident?

Let’s take it a bit further. Even if I had posted a sign outside my home that read enter at your own risk, shouldn’t I still have culpability for your accident? The NFL drug policy states that players are to be responsible for what they place into their bodies.

The policy gets a little murky because the NFL provides a list of banned substances, but neglected to add StarCaps to this list for some mysterious reason. So players looking at the NFL list would not deduct that they should not use StarCaps.

I began my premise with the fact that the NFL knows that players regularly use diuretics and still withheld knowledge for two years that the drug, StarCaps has a banned substance that is not listed on the label. This in my mind is worse than the person who at least places an enter at your own risk sign.

The NFL simply did not put up any danger signs at all regarding a known banned substance. Instead, they just waited patiently for players to step on the shoddy step.

The league should have been further disturbed by the fact that this particular drug may unknowingly trap uniformed players and certainly bore a responsibility to make this information known to all NFL teams.

Most of us are taught to read label when we purchase a drug. According to player statements, they did just that; and upon not seeing a banned substance, they proceeded to use the diuretic assuming it was safe.

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I reiterate that upon learning of this omission, the league should have screamed bloody murder to the manufacturers and the FDA for allowing this big oversight. Why didn’t they? Instead, it appears for two years they wanted to play a game of gotcha with any player who took the diuretic.

They could have easily spared the players this period of anguish by performing a simple act of disclosure.

After a recent federal court decision that sent the case back to state courts for a final ruling, the NFL issued the following statement. “The decision strongly supports the NFL program on performance-enhancing substances that protects the health and safety of NFL players and the integrity of our game.”

The statement ruffles my feathers. Especially “the integrity” part. The league knowingly withheld vital information about a banned substance. This certainly does not line up with integrity.

Let’s look at the word culpable. It means according to the dictionary, deserving of blame or censure as being wrong, evil, improper, or injurious.

So, if I had to make the judgment in this case, I find the omission of the banned ingredient on the label to be paramount in the defense of the players, and therefore rule that they were not wrong, improper or deserving of blame, but instead misled.

The NFL on the other hand looks opposite polar in this case. For two years you knew that this banned substance was in this product and made no effort to warn NFL teams or players whom health and safety you claim to be concerned about.

I find the NFL deserving of blame, acting wrong and improper, implementing injurious damage to the reputation of players and even evil in the sense that a league that claims to want what is best for its employees now wants to administer punishment for mistaken acts of which it had full power to prevent—two years ago.  

I conclude that the NFL needs to be true to its drug disclosure policy and make it work in the interest of the teams and players. And that every NFL player hires a personal chemist.