Professional athletes across all sports have been using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) for many years now. It’s an issue that has yet to be dealt with properly and it has been a source of drama and negative attention for the Seattle Seahawks.
Most recently, Seattle Seahawks’ defensive end Bruce Irvin was suspended for the reported use of Adderall in May. Irvin will miss the first four games of the regular season that includes a Week 2 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers in Seattle on Sept. 15.
Irvin is the sixth Seattle player to be suspended for violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policies since 2010. Cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner were both suspended in 2012 for Adderall, although Sherman’s suspension was later overturned on appeal. Earlier suspensions include guard John Moffitt, offensive tackle Allen Barbre, and defensive back Winston Guy.
Even not counting Sherman’s overturned suspension, that still makes the Seahawks the leading NFL team when it comes to such suspensions since 2010. Not a very flattering record to hold.
“This is a challenge — it’s a challenge for us, and it’s a challenge for the league,” said Pete Carroll during a press conference on May 20.
No kidding. Since 2010 there has been 50 suspensions in the NFL for the use of PEDs. There are only ten teams in the NFL who have no PEDs related suspensions.
Last Tuesday San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was asked about Seattle’s issues with PEDs suspensions at the end of the first day of his team’s minicamp.
“We want to be above reproach in everything and do everything by the rules,” Harbaugh said, “Because if you don’t, if you cheat to win, then you’ve already lost.”
Harbaugh and Carroll have been fierce rivals since their time at Stanford and USC respectively, and Harbaugh’s comments could possibly be interpreted as a dig at Carroll and his NFC West rivals (see full comments here).
Brandon Browner certainly took exception to Harbaugh’s words. In an interview with Sports Radio KJR, Browner unloaded all of his feelings where the 49ers head coach is concerned.
“At the end of the day we gotta win football games,” said Browner, “He’s a coach. He’s never gonna be out there lined up against me. I wish he would; I’d put my hands around his neck.”
Browner’s comments are what really brings this story to the head, and his attitude is something that needs to be addressed by the league.
Certainly, as a professional athlete winning is indeed everything and Browner’s win-at-all-costs attitude may be effective in motivating himself and his teammates. However, when the cost of winning is a players integrity, winning doesn’t mean as much as when you do it honestly.
Every fan wants to see their team win championships. The Seahawks are in prime position to win the Super Bowl this season. But if even one player on the Seahawks roster is using PEDs, then every win they get would be illegitimate.
And if the Seahawks do go on to win the Super Bowl then the sweet taste of victory will be soured by accusations of key players who cheated their way to the Vince Lombardi trophy.
PEDs have no place in an athletes body. If a team isn’t good enough to win fair then they don’t deserve to win at all. The NFL needs to take drastic measures to eliminate the use of PEDs for good.
The current NFL policy says that first-time violators would receive four-game suspensions. The penalty doubles for second-time violators. Third-time violators face suspensions of at least 12 months, subject to reinstatement at the commissioner’s discretion. Players suspended under the policy for any length become ineligible for the Pro Bowl or any other NFL Players Association honors.
That’s a good start but it needs to go further than that. The NFL needs to show absolutely zero tolerance for cheating.
First-time violators should be banned for 12 months, without pay, and be required to take more frequent tests for banned substances after they have served their suspension. Second-time violators should be banned from the NFL for life.
That’s mucho harsh. Maybe even excessive. However, the alternative is watching football, America’s favorite sport, become plagued with cheaters while everyone stands by and watches.
What do you think about my suggestions for players who violate the NFL’s banned-substance policy? How do you feel about athletes who use PEDs? Tell me what you think in the comments section below and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @elysasanchez.