It is always intriguing when an athlete fails a drug test because he/she almost always feigns indignity and innocence.
A cyclist should know that Tour de France officials are going to hand him a plastic cup and point towards the men s room at the conclusion of every stage. OK, so the testing is a little more sophisticated than that. Still, why do so many get caught?
A baseball player who is coming off a 25-game suspension for using a banned substance should be aware he ll have to pass another test before being reinstated. Hello, Neifi Perez. Enjoy your 80-game vacation.
Admittedly, I m not too bright. But if The Blade were to begin drug-testing its employees and ample notice was given and I valued keeping my job, well, I could be the biggest abuser around and I m pretty sure I d manage to be clean when the time came. You don t have to honor the system; you just have to be smarter than it.
The NFL has a policy on anabolic steroids. You can t use em. Every player is tested. Every player knows he s going to be tested. You have to be an idiot to get caught.
Then there s Ryan Tucker of the Cleveland Browns. He is no idiot, although he battled mental health issues that sidelined him for much of last season. The offensive tackle admitted taking a banned substance, a steroid, during treatment for that disorder, although I m not smart enough to know what one has to do with the other.
Tracy Boulian / AP Enlarge
Regardless, he knew what he was doing, he had to know the chances were good he d be caught, and he must have felt the penalty was a worthwhile trade-off.
There was a point last year that I didn t know if I was going to play again, Tucker said. Bottom line, I m healthy now.
Translation: Steroids were my only option if I wanted to play in the NFL again. It cost me four games. Then I ll be back on the payroll. So be it.
It s a convoluted thought process, perhaps, but I can t put myself in Tucker s head or body. Nor can the average fan understand the pressure on NFL players like Tucker to perform at a spectacular level. Maybe it made sense to him. Heck, maybe it does make sense.
But it was a purely selfish decision. When he says, I didn t intend to compromise the integrity of the NFL or my team, he s talking through both sides of his mouth. He knew what he was doing and he most certainly compromised the integrity of his team.
The Browns will have to play without Tucker, arguably their best offensive lineman, in games against divisional opponents Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Baltimore as well as a non-division game at Oakland.
Cleveland was 4-12 last year, a seventh losing season out of eight, with an offense that couldn t get out of its own way. No coach in the NFL is on a shorter leash than Romeo Crennel. The Browns bye week comes after their sixth game and Crennel would figure to have exactly that long to prove that his team has made significant improvement.
When Tucker returns, ready or not to play after sitting for a month, it will be in Game 5 at New England. Can the Browns hope for much better than a 1-4 start?
This was a choice he made, general manager Phil Savage said of Tucker. Obviously, he s suffering the consequences of it, which impacts us.
It s the latter point that Ryan Tucker may have selfishly failed to take into consideration.