So while the rest of the sports world was preoccupied last night with sweatpants and second helpings and trading contracts (and also some things are not related to Charlie Weis) the NFL decided to hide another little nugget of fun in the 6:00 p.m. news dump. Six players—including half of the Minnesota Vikings starting defensive line—have been suspended four games for using something that is not actually a steroid, but "can serve as a masking agent for steroids." And let's see ... yep, there's only four games left in the season. How about that?
The news on this story first broke weeks ago, but after appeals and a lot of hemming and hawing the league finally handed down its punishments in the final month of the regular season. The suspended players are Deuce McAllister, Charles Grant and Will Smith of New Orleans; Kevin and Pat Williams (no relation) of Minnesota; and long snapper Bryan Pittman of Houston. They all essentially claim that they were taking an over-the-counter weight-loss supplement that they believed was safe and that the banned chemical in question isn't even listed on the ingredients.
To which the NFL says, "Nuh-uh. We totally told the Players Associations about this two years ago, and you should really read those brochures they (hopefully) give you." Then they really said this:
"You and you alone are responsible for what goes into your body. Claiming that you used only legally available nutritional supplements will not help you in an appeal. ... Even if they are bought over-the-counter from a known establishment, there is currently no way to be sure that they contain the ingredients listed on the packaging or have not been tainted with prohibited substances ...
"If you take these products, you do so AT YOUR OWN RISK! For your own health and success in the league, we strongly encourage you to avoid the use of supplements altogether, or at the very least to be extremely careful about what you choose to take."
So remember kids, don't put anything in your body unless you're 100% certain of what it is and what it will do to you. Unless you want to be like Braylon Edwards or Osi Umenyiora, in which case you should be chugging those "5-Hour Energy" drinks like they're going out of style. Nothing "performance enhancing" about that!