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More Steroid conversation...

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by IPBprez, Jul 5, 2005.

  1. IPBprez

    IPBprez Cheesehead

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    Once again - the Media is creating a Story when one (at least for the Packers) doesn't exist.

    NFL plays defense on steroids
    League believes problem minimal, policy solid
    By LORI NICKEL
    lnickel@journalsentinel.com
    Posted: July 4, 2005

    Green Bay - It's an ordinary summer night when Na'il Diggs gets the call. They'll be there at 7 a.m. the next morning for his urine sample. It used to be they couldn't test him any more than twice in the off-season, but now they can track him down as many as six times in the spring and summer

    The starting linebacker for the Green Bay Packers isn't amused. This is his down time and he thinks it's inconvenient and pointless. He expects there's always going to be some deviant who'll pump his body with steroids, but Diggs has never known anyone actually who has. Not when he was a scrawny kid being recruited by the football factory at Ohio State University. Not in five years in this Lambeau Field locker room.

    Like a lot of his Green Bay teammates, Diggs said the health risks alone are scary enough to avoid the juice. On top of that, the NFL's financial consequences are way too steep. He takes a long scan around the locker room during the Packers' most recent minicamp, acknowledging that his teammates, some of them amazing athletes topping 300 pounds, are not your average-sized men.

    But he cannot believe any of them got here without lonely hours in the weight room and a lot of genetic blessings.

    "This is not a league driven by steroids," insisted Diggs.

    NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue agrees. He has been defending the NFL's steroid testing and punishment policy in the last couple of months before Congress. Some lawmakers, following the allegations of steroid abuse in major-league baseball, have turned a suspicious eye to all pro sports. Legislation in several versions has been introduced that would force pro leagues like the NFL to follow federal standardized testing procedures, with stricter suspensions for those getting caught using steroids.

    But Diggs can't see why the NFL should get a bad rap all of a sudden.

    Tagliabue is backed by many Packers who believe the NFL's problem with steroids is minimal. They feel they do not need outside regulations from the government. Though those random tests are a pain to Diggs, he and others think they work in deterring athletes from using steroids.

    "The major leagues can handle this on their own. There's no reason to bring paid politicians into this," Diggs said. "The economy, that's what (the politicians) need to be worried about. We have the strictest policy on steroids in the world, probably. The NFL penalizes the most, as far as steroids go.

    "I mean, you can go smoke coke, get caught with cocaine and still be able to play. But you get caught for steroids once? You're done for four games, unpaid. And it's been that way for years.

    "Now we're under scrutiny because of major-league baseball? It's a waste of time. It's a waste of taxpayers money. Yeah, there are probably a couple of guys out there who are taking (steroids), but it's like crime - you can't completely stop all of it. And the small percentage that there is, it's not worth writing up bills and all that.

    "And I don't like waking up at seven in the morning and taking this test. If I didn't get caught the first time, don't bother me no more and test me for nothin'. "

    NFL program since '90

    The NFL has had year-round random testing for steroids since 1990. There are two new elements to the NFL's self-imposed screening process this summer:

    One measurement to test for testosterone levels in the body is more precise now, with a more concentrated ratio that helps determine if there is more testosterone in the body than there should be. The NFL used to detect if testosterone was six times more than normal in the body; now it can detect if it is four times higher.

    The NFL has also allowed for those four additional unannounced drug tests in the off-season, meaning any player might be tested as many as six times in the off-season now. That's in addition to the season-long testing that includes a mandatory, unannounced test for all players during training camp. Also, any given week starting in the exhibition season and continuing through the playoffs, seven Packers will arrive to find a blue slip in their locker, their summons for another random test.

    In all, the NFL said it spends $10 million a year on more than 9,000 tests of its approximate 2,000 players for all prohibitive substances, including everything from steroids to marijuana.

    An NFL player who gets caught for steroids is suspended for four games without pay, representing a fourth of their entire paycheck. A second violation would mean a six-game, unpaid suspension and a third would equal a year suspension. The testing and consequences are all policies that were agreed upon with the NFL Players Association and are a part of the collective bargaining agreement.

    "We've had the (toughest) drug policy in major-league sports for years and will continue to," said Packers center Mike Flanagan. "The TV revenue and all the dollars that are coming in . . . everybody knows this business is a golden egg and everyone's got to protect it."

    Flanagan took an interest in learning about steroids soon after he began playing at UCLA in 1993, after hearing rumors about steroid use among college players. He said he has never taken them and has never seen any of his Packer teammates ever take them, so he concludes the use is not widespread.

    "There is always a way to beat the system," Flanagan said. "I'm not saying morally or ethically it's right, but if anyone can find an edge, they find it. I'm not condoning it. It's not been something that's been a part of my life.

    "But if it comes to it where they've got to test every guy for every drug on the street for steroids and everything else, it doesn't matter. There's always going to be people who want to step out of the box."

    Multiple efforts by Congress

    Still, lawmakers are not entirely satisfied with a business like the NFL policing itself when it comes to steroids.

    Since April, Congress has had several hearings also involving Major League Baseball and other professional sports athletes and officials. The results of those sessions are two bills that have attracted a lot of attention. The Clean Sports Act has already been approved by the Government Reform Committee, and the Drug Free Sports Act has been approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), a former major-league pitcher, is proposing another bill on testing for and banning steroids in major sports.

    These bills have common ground in that they want independent testing of the major sports athletes. Right now, the NFL is entirely responsible for testing its athletes and catching and punishing the steroid abusers.

    If one of the bills is passed by the House and Senate and gets the approval of President Bush, the penalties for violators could be harsh. One suggestion follows the Olympic model: a two-year ban for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second, with five mandatory tests per year. Others call for a half season suspension on the first offense.

    League on the defensive

    The NFL does not support this proposed legislation, according to Greg Aiello, the NFL's vice president of public relations. He referred to a recent USA Today story in which NFL vice president Jeff Pash stated:

    "There is no reason to displace the current, collectively bargained NFL program, which is uniformly respected and recognized as effective."

    Aiello said the NFL's track record spoke for itself. He could not recall any repeat steroid offenders. He also said that the NFL was ahead of the Food and Drug Administration and other sports leagues when it banned performance-enhancing substances like Androstenedione and Ephedra before they did.

    It's a sensitive issue beyond the locker room. Some Packers assistant coaches declined to comment on Congress' recent interest in steroids in the NFL, and a team spokesman said that Packers team doctors and trainers could not comment on the issue either, leaving any and all of the official word to come from the NFL offices in New York.

    Several Packers said they had never witnessed anyone taking steroids or heard of anyone taking them. They supported the NFL's steroid policies and some even welcomed stricter testing.

    "First of all, it's cheating. Why should another guy get an edge that way? It doesn't have any place in our game," said Packers cornerback Al Harris. "And it harms guys' bodies so much.

    I just remember Brian Bosworth. They showed pictures of him now and he's like all shrunk up."
    (Psst - he was still on them when he did that movie - STONE COLD...)

    Added Packers running back Tony Fisher: "You want to play a clean sport. You don't want someone all juiced up hitting you."

    There are still reports of steroid users in the NFL. CBS News first reported with a "60 Minutes Wednesday" investigation that Carolina Panthers Jeff Mitchell, a lineman, and Todd Sauerbrun, a punter, and former Panther Todd Steussie, another linemen, had a doctor's prescription for testosterone cream and steroids. It was reported that they went back for refills, even before the 2004 Super Bowl. It has not been proved that the athletes took these medications. The NFL did not catch these athletes with its drug testing; the news was leaked by an insider from the doctor's office.

    "I'm all for more testing," said 340-pound Green Bay defensive lineman Grady Jackson. "If you've got nothing to hide, it shouldn't matter. I've never suspected anybody, but to hear of them using it before they went to the Super Bowl, that's kind of crazy. They're cheating."

    Generally, the NFL believes it has the best steroid policy possible.

    "We believe it's as strong as can be based on the current science and technology," Aiello said. "That's why we're always funding new research efforts, because you're always concerned about undetected substances that are out there, new potential masking agents, the issue of Human Growth Hormone, which there is no reliable urine test for. One of our advisors describes it as an ongoing battle between the cheaters and the testers."

    <center>From the July 5, 2005, editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel</center>

    Think they'll let this dead dog lie...? The article should have focused questions on those Teams that showed evidence of cheating, like with Todd Steussie, etc. The Packers know which side their bread has butter on it.
     
  2. Bruce

    Bruce Cheesehead

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    Blame Baseball and its long history of ignoring steroid use for this mess. It has spilled on to all sports and, as you so aptly described, all teams, however undeservedly.

    Government showboats holding hearings is hardly the answer, but baseball just kept ignoring all the warnings and evidence. Once the Senators start getting the cameras turned on them, it is damned near impossible to stick that genie back into the bottle
     
  3. packedhouse01

    packedhouse01 Cheesehead

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    I think the NFL's drug of choice is pot. I agree with Diggs I think the players recogzine that damage that steroids can do to one's body when it's only used to enhance their physical skills and not used for medical purposes.
     
  4. DePack

    DePack Cheesehead

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    Why is congress getting involved. They are going after baseball and football because of it's popularity. If they are concerned about the health of the athletes, why not go after body builders or "professional" wrasslin'. Could it possibly be because the spotlight won't be quite as bright on the fine gentlemen from Washington?
     
  5. Ryan

    Ryan Cheesehead

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    ::Watches Thread::
    .o0(I know were not going to get into a political conversation here)
     
  6. PackerTraxx

    PackerTraxx Cheesehead

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    Bruce, you sure hit the nail on the head on this one. Baseball should be ashamed for the way owners, management and the players have refused to police themselves, for something that is obviously dangerous, until Congress has to get involved. All sports should police themselves strictly out of simple decency because they know the product is harmful. And Congress should simply give them the tools to police it with proper penalties. Then Congress should bud out and pay attention to more important things like getting rid of homelessness, quit robbing from Medicare, getting the job done in the Middle East and getting our soldiers home, and many more things that need to be accomplished.
     
  7. Greg C.

    Greg C. Cheesehead

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    You're exactly right, Bruce. I work in a job where I have to deal with bureacracy, and there is no end to it. The mentality in this case is that if a certain amount of testing is good, then even more testing must be better--or at the very least, it can't do any harm. But it DOES do harm at a certain point, for the time and money that could be better spent on other things.

    I saw part of the NFL's testimony in Congress on C-Span, and Tagliabue, Upshaw, and the others really had their act together. The congressmen even said several times that this was a stark contrast to what they got from the baseball people. But they want more testing anyway. It's hard for them to just leave the NFL alone, even though it is obvious that the steroid policy has been very effective.
     
  8. ArizonaPackerFan

    ArizonaPackerFan Cheesehead

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    They just had an article in my local paper how the real drug problem in baseball wasn't steroids, but Amphetamines. They said how baseball players have been taking them for decades, and that it's used by far more players than steroids. They quoted some doctors as saying Amphetamines are more harmful than steroids. I guess Selig wants to get rid of that in baseball now too but will have a tougher fight because so many baseball players believe they can't play 162 games without the pick-me-up. I wonder if the NFL uses or tests for that too?
     
  9. IPBprez

    IPBprez Cheesehead

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    That's a real good question - there have been many, many times when we've watched the Packers come out on the field for a game and look lethargic against the other Team - who came out like Speedy Gonzalez or the Road Runner... I've always felt something like that was going on - but then, those aren't actually considered STEROIDS and maybe ol' Tag is just lookin' the other way.. hard to say. But there are times when it feels that way.
     
  10. PackerTraxx

    PackerTraxx Cheesehead

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    Tagliabue is hard to figure out. Sometimes he seems like a real upright guy and other times he seems like a sleazy lawyer. I believe the NFL does a better job of policing themselves than any of the other sports. Of course, there is always room for improvement and new "wizzinator" challenges. :nono:
     

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