The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for

All about perspective


My first full-time job in journalism was with what was then known as the Bergen Record in north Jersey, covering the town of Ramapo, just over the state line in New York. It's the place where Lawrence Taylor was arrested a couple of weeks ago, but back then, the story of most interest to The Record was about kids from Jersey, where the drinking age was 21, driving over the border to New York, where they only had to be 18.

In other words, the Jersey kids were driving to become legal drinkers and having ingested their legal substances, occasionally getting killed or maimed driving back -- one of the more gruesome aspects of the job was going to some of those scenes.

That's probably why I think that athletes taking performance-enhancing drugs should be put in perspective -- legal drugs kill instantly and still do. And not only teenagers.

And I'm OK with the current NFL rules -- four games off for a player who tests positive -- because those who think they can enhance their performance enough to make a team or become a starter that they will risk failing a drug test and/or look for ways to escape them. Make the suspension a year? It took almost that long to go through the appeals process with Brian Cushing and the case involving Kevin and Pat Williams plus two New Orleans Saints is two years old and unresolved.

Am I soft on drugs?

I don't think so. In fact, I wish baseball would throw out the records of the McGwire-Sosa-Bonds era and restore Hank Aaron, Roger Maris and Babe Ruth to their rightful places in history.

Football, on the other hand, started trying long before baseball even acknowledged a problem.

That was more than two decades ago, when the first anti-steroid policy turned Tony Mandarich into what was known as "the incredible shrinking lineman'' and made him into one of the bigger draft busts ever -- he was No. 1 in the 1989 draft and Troy Aikman went second. It's a collectively bargained policy that mandates random tests four times a year plus more frequent testing for those who already have tested positive.

And yet the use of steroids and newer drugs persists in an industry where jobs hinge on the smallest of edges. I find it both funny and outrageous that Bill Romanowski, an acknowledged steroid user during his career, called out Cushing for challenging his failed drug test. Heck, steroids were the least of Romo's transgressions -- try kicking Larry Centers in the head or spitting in J.J. Stokes' face or any number of late helmet-to-helmet hits.

Yes, Cushing deserved his suspension. But if he has a career that's worthy of the Hall of Fame and I'm still a voter when he comes up, I won't hold it against him if this one's the only one.

Funny, it's kind of full circle for me.

If Cushing was a couple of generations older, he might have been one of those kids who drove across the New York line to get a legal drink -- he was born in Oradell, N.J., 7.9 miles away from the office in Pearl River, N.Y. where I worked.

By Dave Goldberg  |  May 28, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  NFL , NFL Rules , Roger Goodell , Steroids Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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