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The Clemens Implosion

Nothing like a little Congressional Hearing on Clemen’s alleged use of steroids to get the attention of the sports media in February. February has to be the slowest sports month of the year. Heck, I even watch the Westminster Dog Show to get over my Super Bowl hangover. The Beagle won by a nose!

So what does Clemens and his insane painting of himself into a nasty steriod corner have to do with a football blog? Easy- At least football is not the totally brainless baseball boob. Football is slowly whoring itself out to the mighty dollar, but with respect to steroids, it is doing as well as it can under the circumstances.

Football’s steroid policy is always going to have the obligatory player’s union interest in fighting it. The NFL has a 4 week suspension for your first offense. The second offense is 8 games. The third offense is the equivalent of a death sentence: a year’s suspension, and the player must ask for and obtain reinstatement from the commissioner before being allowed to play again. Given Goodell’s treatment of Pacman Jones, anyone going this far is not getting reinstated into the league.

This all seems somewhat coherent. As long as players have unions, the NFL is not going to be able to bounce anyone immediately/permanently. If I could make the rules, it would be first timers get a year and second timers are given a lifetime ban. And that ‘leniency’ for first time offenders is only because we need to protect everyone from a laboratory error, mislabeled sample, someone getting framed etc..

One area I would like to see the NFL get more consistent on is records and awards. If a player is found to have steroids, the previous 16 games of records/statistics should be wiped clean from any record book and the player should not be eligible for the next Pro Bowl or any other award consideration. Football detractors correctly point out that Shawne Merriman’s inclusion in the Pro Bowl after serving a 4 game suspension is ludicrous. I read the league rules and as I understand it, this only happens with the third violation.