Lawrence Taylor may go down for rape but his seat in the NFL Hall of Fame is secure.
Brian Cushing, the outside linebacker who wowed the league and Houston Texans fans in particular with 133 tackles in his rookie year, will likely have his rookie defensive player of the year award taken back because he has incurred a four-game suspension for failing a drug test.
On the surface, those two statements seem out of whack.
The difference is the NFL oversees the Hall of Fame and they have shown no inclination toward even attempting to take a step towards cleaning up the Hall. Once in, never out.
The Associated Press, on the other hand, is responsible for the rookie award and it is on AP’s say so — and at the urging of Sports Illustrated’s Peter King in his influential Monday Morning Quarterback column — that Cushing’s award is now up for grabs again.
The wire service has decided to re-do the vote leaving Cushing eligible.
Buffalo Bills rookie safety Jairus Byrd finished second in the balloting for the award the first time around and would be the heavy favourite to take down the award.
Cushing being associated with steroid use isn’t exactly news. The former USC standout has been linked — his hometown press intimates unfairly so — to steroids since his high school days when he went through a ridiculous growth spurt before becoming a star on the football field.
The rumours followed him to USC but nothing was ever substantiated.
Even now, with confirmation from the NFL that he did fail a test last September, and a subsequent appeal being denied, Cushing is trying to paint himself a victim. He apparently even took and passed a lie detector test according to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter stating he did not take performance enhancing drugs.
Conveniently, the party that administered the test is not revealed.
“I was substance-tested randomly by the NFL during the 2009 season,” Cushing writes in his only public statement since his suspension was announced on Friday. “The results of those tests indicated the presence of a non-steroidal banned substance. The League acted to suspend me based on those results, which I challenged in my appeal of the suspension. I believe we presented compelling evidence during the appeal process to challenge the test results, and I disagree with and am disappointed by the suspension. Bound by the decision of the League, I regret the situation it presents to the Texans’ organization, my teammates, and our fans. My dedication to a championship season in 2010 continues undeterred.”
Either way, Cushing’s football future is forever smeared no matter how he tries to spin this positive test.
AT THE HALF
Albert Haynesworth isn’t getting much support from his Washington teammates in the wake of his decision to forego team workouts and get ready for the coming season on his own. “There is no room for negotiation at 4-12,” teammate Phillip Daniels said, speaking of the team’s woeful record last season. “I’m here, (London) Fletcher’s here, everybody’s here,” Daniels added. “He’s got to understand that. We need him to come here, be here and show these young guys that the veterans have bought in and that we want to win games.” ... Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu managed to play only five games last season, but for good reason. The Steelers’ defensive stalwart was on the verge of seeing his career end with one more hit. “If I would have injured it again, the doctor was saying that it will be a career-ending injury, most likely,” Polamalu told John Harris of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review referring to his knee injury. “I had to face that.” Polamalu didn’t require surgery and he’s feeling good now, but has no idea what will happen once he starts tackling people again ... With Patrick Willis under contract for the next five seasons, the obvious next step for the 49ers is locking up Vernon Davis. Comcast SportsNet Bay Area reported on Monday that Davis and his camp are looking for a five-year deal with $40-million, $25 million of that guaranteed.
FOURTH AND INCHES
Baltimore Ravens backup QB Troy Smith has a new attitude and a new agent. Funny how that happens. Under his old agent Ralph Cindrich, Smith was upset with his backup status and reportedly ready to “crawl to Cleveland” for a better opportunity. Now backed by Neil Cornrich, Smith said Monday “My time will come. I love it here.” ... The Texans have already come up with Plan A to replace Cushing for those first four games. Zac Diles will move over from his customary spot as the starting weak side linebacker. Diles previously started on the strong side for the first eight games of 2008, until he was lost for the season with an injury. One of Xavier Adibi or rookie Darryl Sharpton will compete for Diles’ old job ... Telling line from Steelers owner Art Rooney in a letter to season-ticket holders fed up with Ben Roethlisberger and his prima-donna act. After assuring the fans that Big Ben has been talked to, Rooney closes with this: “The vast majority of our players are good people, people who work hard to be the best that they can be.”