A few days ago, I read one of the better articles that I have read in a long time and it just so happened to come from ESPN/Grantland writer, Bill Simmons. I have always been a fan of his writing and podcast, so it does not surprise me that he would come up with a great piece such as this.
Anyhow, Simmons decided to bring up the performance enhancing drugs issue and the way they are impacting not only the way sports are played, but the way the public perceives them and is almost afraid to discuss them. Media and fans are hesitant to question whether or not players use PEDs because we don't want to know the truth and as long as we can watch our favorite sport, who cares? I mean, if Player A does it, Player B can too. No one is stopping him/her.
And it isn't all about steroids, either. A possible scandal was recently broken with Super Bowl champ Ray Lewis and the deer antler velvet spray. Basically, Sports Illustrated confirmed through multiple sources that Lewis was taking the spray, which contains substances banned by the NFL, as a way to recover quicker from his torn triceps.
The story on Lewis broke a few days before the Super Bowl and that was that. Nothing more really came of it after he denied the entire investigation. Media didn't pursue it and fans really didn't care. Now he's the guy up on the podium being showered by graffiti.
Make no mistake, it isn't just Lewis. I think there are players that use PEDs on every single team. That includes the Arizona Cardinals. The way players are able to defy nature and come back from injury sooner than should be humanly possible blows my mind.
But let's look at how the Cardinals have handled season ending injuries over the past couple of years. First you have Ryan Williams, who Bill Simmons did not mention in his article. Williams first tore his patella tendon two seasons ago and was immediately placed on the IR after season ending injury. Then, almost a full year later, he was still working through some swelling and pain as a result of the injury.
I know an ACL injury isn't the same and recovery times vary between the person and the different type of injuries, but can't we question how Adrian Peterson looked so freakish on the football field this year? Is it so ridiculous to ask how he not only returned to form so quickly, but then went on to actually look better than he did pre-injury? Keep in mind, this was only a few months after he initially tore the ligament.
Is it inconceivable to think that the Cardinals could be one of the cleaner teams in the NFL? Williams may have been able to come back from his freak shoulder injury this past season had he cheated to do so, but he did the honorable thing and is rehabbing it hard everyday. How fair is it that he has to fight through these mishaps while guys like Ray Lewis miraculously recover in six weeks and go on to win a Super Bowl?
A triceps injury is supposed to take a lot longer than six weeks to heal. Simmons actually uses former Cardinal Bertrand Berry and current offensive tackle Levi Brown as examples. Both of them had the exact same injury as Lewis and were designated to the IR soon thereafter in their respective seasons. There was no way they were coming back that same season from an injury that could take until the next season to fully heal.
And as Simmons states, why would players be so against having their blood tested if they have nothing to hide? Obviously peeing in a cup doesn't catch all the substances, so players have found a way to sidestep getting caught.
If we want to even be able to compare Adrian Peterson to guys like Barry Sanders or Jim Brown, then something needs to be done about this PED issue. If Peterson is clean, that's great. I have no evidence other than what I know of recovery times and what I see on the field to convict him. But is it so hard for players to agree to more complex drug tests if they really are clean? Don't they want to clear their names, too? There really is only one reason they wouldn't want to take the tests.
What do you make of this whole mess? Should players be held more accountable by being forced to take tests that could either clear them or convict them of taking these drugs? Who should hold them responsible? The media or the fans?
Tell us what you think.