PEDs Don't an All-Pro Make
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There used to be a clear definition of what was actually steroids and what wasn't. These days, however, the definition of what is a steroid/banned substance is up to interpretation. Should a player be excluded from the Hall of Fame because of murky legalisms?
My biggest beef with the steroid policy is that most guys have received four-game suspensions because they took substances that were on the banned list with literally hundreds of other substances. This issue didn't become prevalent until after Korey Stringer died in 2001. Yes, ephedera and other dieurretics have been the reason why most players have received suspensions.
Over the last few years there has been much discussion about the seemingly tarnished records in Major League baseball due to performance enhancing drugs.
We have seen some of our baseball heroes take the fall, testify before congress and miss games. As we put mental asterisks by their records, questions come to mind when those players become eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame.
It seems clear cut that a baseball player who uses steroids is not the same caliber of player as one who doesn't because using banned substances in baseball has a direct effect on the power of a swing, thus resulting in more home runs.
But on the gridiron, I don't think banned substances have the same effect on performance. Because football is the most physically demanding sport, training is only one piece of the puzzle. The other piece is how good of a football player you are.
Steroids can't take you from a special teams contributor to a Pro Bowl linebacker. Getting bigger, faster and stronger won't make you catch or tackle better or throw a perfect spiral.
In today's era, potential Hall of Famers who have missed games because of the steroid policy (Julius Peppers, Shawne Merriman for example) should still be considered for the Hall of Fame. Perhaps baseball is different, but one cannot cheat his way through an NFL career.
Once a player returns from a four-game suspension, he is monitored under the most rigid standards, getting tested at least 10 times a month. If he fails another test, then it's a one-year ban from NFL. Strike three, then you're out of the NFL for good.
This is not the same "slap-on-the-wrist" suspension we see in MLB. In my 12-year career, I never saw a perennial Pro Bowl player bounce back from that. They just don't exist in football.
That's why Jerry Rice, Dan Marino and Brett Favre were so special. But then again, so are players of today like Peyton Manning, Ray Lewis and LaDainian Thomlinson -- no asterisk needed.
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