"Memo to 18 AP voters who let Brian Cushing keep his award, despite clear PED use: you should be drug-tested yourselves," Sports Illustrated's Austin Murphy tweeted yesterday. "What a f'ing joke." Sigh.
I'm not sure what Murphy means by "clear PED use," and for that matter I'm not sure what the Associated Press means when it says Cushing "tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug." Cushing, as far we know, had slightly elevated levels of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a hormone found primarily in women and often employed by steroid users to goose low testosterone levels. That hCG is on our banned lists at all is a product of our hopeless and neverending game of chemical whack-a-mole. It isn't in and of itself "performance-enhancing," at least not as our drug warriors have sloppily defined the term; it's only indicative of performance-enhancing drug use, which is not the same thing, and which — memo to Austin Murphy — is certainly not "clear PED use," except to all those lazy sportswriters who use "performance-enhancing" as shorthand for "banned shit I can't be bothered to look up even on Wikipedia." (Now that's an f'ing joke.)
There's a broader point here, though, and you can start to discern it amid all the whining and keening from the likes of Murphy and Pro Football Talk and Vic Ketchman and even the The New York Times (which, tellingly, assigned resident D.A.R.E. officer Michael Schmidt to the story). Here's Times sports editor Tom Jolly, stating the concern plainly:
Does Cushing vote mean drugs are taken less seriously by NFL fans and reporters than by those in baseball?
Which is a polite way of saying, "WHY DON'T YOU PASTE-EATING FUCKS SHARE MY MORAL PANIC???" Now, the Times by and large lives in a happy pink cloud of willed naivete, so Jolly can be forgiven. But the other guys know football intimately, and they know its toll and its perverse incentives, and surely they know, on some level, that if it weren't for the contributions of various chemical synthetics — some legal, some banned, some banned but nevertheless countenanced — the NFL season wouldn't last beyond mini-camp. It's an impossibly brutal game, and these writers know it, and all their fatuous outrage over Cushing's award is just a lame attempt to pretend they're covering something more noble than an organized bar fight.
Texans linebacker Brian Cushing denies drug use [AP]
Backlash against AP voters who supported Brian Cushing is building [PFT]
They sold out [Jaguars.com]
Answering PFT, the 'Cushing critics' [Minneapolis Star Tribune]