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The NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs is straightforward: The first failed test results in a four-game suspension, and the second failed test results in suspension for an entire season. Aside from the negative publicity that surrounds a failed test and the loss of endorsements that could accompany same, the aforementioned suspensions undoubtedly affect a player's bottom line; many contracts, including Brian Cushing's, contain escalator clauses that as a practical matter can't be triggered if a player misses too many snaps.
Is that enough to discourage players from using PEDs? I think so. The average NFL career lasts only 3.5 seasons; therefore, for the average player, missing a quarter of a season or a full season is disastrous to both reputation and career earnings. Granted, the prospect of losing four games or an entire season may not be nearly as daunting for an All-Pro (who figures to play for far more than the 3.5 seasons, health permitting), or a fringe player simply trying to hang on for one more year. Those instances, however, are the outliers. For the overwhelming number of NFL players, the consequences of violating the NFL's PED policy should be a suitable deterrent to utilizing banned substances.
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