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Football season is here, so what better way to start than by enshrining someone that helps crystalize our differing attitudes toward steroid use. A reminder:
Baseball = Bad
Football = It's ok you aren't a bad guy.
Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you, from my very own New England Patriots, the NFL's "dirtiest" player: Rodney Harrison.
He was suspended for the first 4 games of the 2007 season for admitting he used Human Growth Hormone. Many in the NFL cried foul at Patriots fans for not giving him the same treatment that Roger Clemens got when his name was part of the Mitchell Report. But let's be fair to Bostonians: Clemens never helped us win a title. In fact, he had a reputation for blowing the big game while he was pitching for the Red Sox. It's okay to be upset with someone who cheated but never helped his team by doing so. Harrison, on the other hand, has been a selfless team player and only took HGH to "help" him "recover" from an injury. You know so he could get back and help the team. He did miss nearly all of the 2005 season with injuries (three torn ligaments in one knee). So don't blame us for being hypocrites... blame Clemens for being a selfish choker. It really is that simple.
As for the rest of NFL fans and the media, what the hell is wrong with you people?!?! Cheating is cheating! Drugs are drugs, and drugs are bad, be it 'roids, HGH, EPO, pot, E, LSD, coke, heroin... they are all bad! Aren't they?!? Why can an NFL player miss a month and it's no biggie, Harrison will be enshrined in Canton, but a baseball player is ruined forever? Honestly, the only reason Harrison gets any flack at all is because he plays for the Patriots. If he was still with the Chargers and this happened, it would not have even been remembered by most.
Why are we as fans (the media do start out that way) have different emotional triggers for these two sports? Is it because we view football as a more physical game and thus deserving of some more leeway? That we can't imagine, STILL, how steroids can help a person hit a baseball? Let's look at Harrison, the way he plays is violent. He goes all out on every play and wants to hit the other team as hard as he can. While see a big jacked up baseball player with a toothpick in his hands seems kind of ridiculous. Look at Barry Bonds: he was all 'roided up and he wore armour to the plate like a big baby. Yes, fastballs HURT, and yes Rodney wears pads, but all football players wear pads. Not every baseball player does.
There is also some BS going on here and it is one further proof that steroids are different than other drugs. The only other drug with this level of hypocrisy tied to it is pot. Hands up for each of you reading this that knew in their lifetime one active policeman that smoked regularly (once a week). More than half of you should have your hands raised.
Maybe the issue is that NFL players have been more honest about their drug habits than baseball players have. They've been publicly dealing with the issue for over 20 years, while baseball had gotten a free pass until this millennium. Even Rodney was quoted as saying "I took a banned substance." That's 100x more specific than what Jason Giambi apologized for. Is it fair to say that it's okay for fans to overlook current NFL transgressions because we spent so long over looking baseball's?
So what do I say about a guy on my favorite team? And not just a guy, but a crucial player? See 2006 AFC championship game and that pass to Dallas Clark up the middle late in the 4th quarter. Harrison was not there because he was injured, a healthy Rodney does not let a TE make that play. I honestly don't know. If I walk away from the Patriots, I know that all teams have someone as bad on their team. So I'd have to walk away from sports, and that is something I'm not ready to do. So I file this under the way things are. I'm addicted to sports and the people I root for are desperate to win. Color me the enabler then because I'll plead guilty to that charge.
Did he use them more than just for recovering from his injury? Only the naive would say no, and if I'm not ready give up my ignorance and naivette then I should stop this series right now. You can't assume everyone's dirty, but you can't give the benefit of the doubt to those that have been busted. I'll say he's clean now, everyone gets a second chance, but I won't say he was clean until he got injured. It's possible but he's lost that argument.
Welcome to the club Rodney. Say hi to the gang:
It won't stay such a small and elite club for long, so save some seats.
For those wanting my update of the selection criteria please head on over to my blog @ Pip's Bad Ideas.