Dear AP: Don't look back
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I'm a Green Bay Packers fan first and foremost, so the news that the Associated Press is re-voting for 2009 Defensive Rookie of the Year in light of Texans linebacker Brian Cushing's four game suspension is good news for one of my favorite Packers: LB Clay Matthews. They were both starters in college at USC in 2008, and they were both great NFL rookies in 2009. As good as Matthews was statistically, Cushing was better. However if the re-vote effectively eliminates Cushing from the running, then it might go to Matthews. Though I'm not sure he really wants it taken away from his former teammate.
But I don't want the AP to look back at awards. I want them to stay with the votes they made right at the end of the season when it was fresh in their minds. It reminds me of the problems baseball is having when looking back at the late 1990s. How can they let those stars from the steroid era into the Baseball Hall of Fame? Surely if the issue of steroids had never come up then Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds would be in on the first ballot. These are two different situations: the baseball writers are forced to look back since many of these players are only now becoming eligible for entry while the football writers have chosen to look back. But how far back are they willing to go back in time for a re-vote? I can't recall one before. While change is constant in life there's often a good reason why some things always remain the same.
The other side to this story is that the re-vote might turn out to be as bad as the original vote. During the original January 2010 vote the writers didn't know that in September 2009 Cushing had tested positive. But now it's not exactly clear how this positive test happened. It was for slightly elevated levels of hCG which is a natural non-steroidal substance. Cushing said that he presented "compelling evidence during the appeal process to challenge the test results." And every test he took after that positive test in September came back negative. Based on this tweet from Jay Glazer, who talked with Cushing after the suspension was announced, it's still the player's responsibility "for what goes into their bodies." I think Glazer makes it clear Cushing did or took something even if Cushing didn't believe his actions would be against the rules. But what will the AP writers do with all this information? It's enough to have gotten him in trouble with the NFL, but is that enough to justify taking his award away? The blame begins with Cushing, he did something that led to a positive test, but the AP decision to re-vote is only compounding the problem.
May 12, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
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