In the end, testing positive for a performance-enhancer didn’t matter. Brian Cushing, who tested positive for a banned substance (non-steroid, in his words), will serve a four-game suspension to start the season after losing his appeal on the matter. The positive test ultimately didn’t matter to voters, and the former USC linebacker got to keep his hardware.
It’s been done before, with Shawne Merriman, Julius Peppers and the Williams Wall in Minnesota, so the precedent had been set. But never had there been a decision to hold a second ballot and allow voters to change their minds. Ultimately, not enough of them did to change the voting. The gap narrowed, but Cushing still edged out Jairus Byrd for the award. He can’t go to the Pro Bowl this year, but he’ll still get his bonus if he performs in his 12 games back.
Does it send the statement that voters had already assumed Cushing was juiced before the test results were announced?
Does it send the statement that it’s just assumed that there’s a percentage of use in the league and that Cushing was just unlucky enough to get caught? (Can we talk about HGH again for a moment?)
Was Cushing’s performance just superior to the other rookies, so it wasn’t an issue?
Was his four-game suspension deemed enough by the voters, as he’ll also lose four games of pay?
Did the voters look to a larger issue of opening things up and changing up the books and awards from previous seasons?
Oh, and why was he still on the ballot if you’re opening this back up?
Finally, is it like Ving Rhames told Bruce Willis in “Pulp Fiction” that the voice was “pride (expletive) with you.” That is to say, the voters stuck to their original takes (for the most part) and were going to be damned if they were to be told their judgment was incorrect.
Whatever the answer on these questions are for each of the voting members, I can only hope that this re-vote and the debate of the past week forces the NFL and the NFLPA to come to an agreement on expediting the appeals process. Let’s not have things hanging out in the balance and coming out months after the season ended. Get the date. Get the information. Get the appeals process done.
The Commissioner’s office is swift and decisive on seemingly every other issue. This is an area in need of immediate improvement.
What if the Texans had made a playoff run? What if he hadn’t been there for the Week 2 win over Tennessee?
As for those passing judgment on Cushing, I go back to my same argument that I’ve banged on for years …
If you were going to make millions and millions of dollars and the downside was that your health may be compromised some years later, wouldn’t you take that chance for the immediate glory?
Sign me up.