If you blinked, you may have missed this news story: six Carolina Panthers on the 2003 team have been outted in a report using illegal performance enhancing drugs. I saw this story on ESPN.com a few days ago, but I had to be reminded about it after reading an article in the St. Louis Dispatch about Rams' offensive tackle Todd Steussie being one of those players. Steussie was one of the starters on the 2003 Panthers offensive line, three of which were reported using HGH.
I'm not going to bore you with a bunch of steroids rhetoric. I just want to know why we haven't really heard anything about this when it could be the biggest story of the year.
If this were baseball, we'd have heard this story so much by now we'd be physically sick. But for some reason, football is immune to this. The story was released on ESPN.com just a day ago, but it's not on the football front page any more. I haven't heard much on Sportscenter or PTI about this. I'm sure it was touched on, but it was never really explored.
There are answers you can throw my way. Well, none of these people have been officially accused or charged by the NFL. Barry Bonds hasn't been officially accused by Major League Baseball. He is still playing. There's plenty of reports and rumors that he used steroids. I'm sure he did. But no official ruling has been made by MLB. There's official investigations and all of that, but they all seem to be dragging their feet. Hell, Barry was doing steroids before they were even illegal in baseball. Yet he's public enemy number one. He's supposedly ruining baseball single-handedly. Does that mean these Panthers are ruining football?
These Panthers weren't just any players. These were players that we all watched during the playoffs. These were players we rooted for to defeat the favored Patriots. These players beat my beloved Rams in a double overtime game in the playoffs. In fact, the Panthers had 216 rushing yards and only allowed three sacks in that game. From here on out, I'm going to blame that loss on the Panthers' super-human offensive lineman. That's got to be it.
The fact is these players used HGH and other illegal drugs. If this were baseball, the headlines everywhere would be screaming "Panthers Cheated Their Way to Super Bowl."
An even more surprising turn of events is that these players were tested for the substances and all passed the test. If these reports are true, then the NFL drug tests don't work. And that doesn't even go so far as to mention the complete lack of a comprehensive test for HGH. This is a legitimately big story that we should be hearing about. Instead, it was passed over for stories of third-string quarterback controversies and jerk-off receivers riding bikes. This is a story that has a bigger impact on the NFL than the stories that are reported, yet it was completely over-looked.
It's obvious that there is a double standard when baseball and football are concerned. Where football can do no wrong, baseball can do no right. When it became known that Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Jason Grimsley had admitted to using HGH, it completely took over the sports news landscape.
Baseball is no longer America's past-time. To many, it's a long, boring sport that never seems to end. It's had some tough controversies for awhile. They canceled the All Star game years back. They had a really bad labor dispute. The only bright spot for awhile was a wild home run race that turned out to be a sham. People are tired of baseball betraying them.
Football is America's sport. Much like Lance Armstrong, people are willing to ignore any possible blemishes. The media feeds off of that love. They know that we will watch their T.O. stories and their Carson Palmer stories over and over again. They don't need to give us new news. They just need to change the wording and we'll watch it again. The last thing they want is for us to become disenfranchised with the sport. The last thing we want is to lose our favorite sport. Baseball was already on our shit list and the season is too long for the media to focus simply on the games. Steroids stories keep journalists going.
I know it would be great to put off dealing with a possible football problem until later, but if they can address the issue now, they can save us the agony of dealing with a bigger problem later on. In ten years, I don't want to be watching a steroid scandal. I want to be watching football the way I love it. With dumbass receivers mouthing off to their coaches and insignificant third-string controversies that will have no impact on my sport.