Cushing, perhaps pondering the medical mysteries he's endured
The Texans and linebacker Brian Cushing had a little press conference earlier today, Cushing's first public appearance since it was announced that he will be suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season for violating the league's drug policy. Actually, if you believe Cushing, he didn't violate the league's drug policy as much as he happened to have enough hCG in his system to trigger a positive result. Sorry, people. All of a sudden, semantics are important.
The purpose of the news conference ostensibly was to allow the media to ask questions and give Cushing a forum to tell his side of the story. The goal, my guess, was to put out this hCG-induced brush fire before OTAs start on Monday and move on.
Somehow I don't think the press conference will have the effect the Texans had planned.
With most everyone expecting an apology for putting something illegal into his body, Cushing was instead defiant and denied intentionally taking any substance banned by the NFL, even going so far as to say he was concerned during the 2009 season that he was playing football with tumors in his body. For all of the incredible things Cushing did on the field this past season, perhaps his most amazing performance to date was the ten minutes in front of the media today, insomuch as he managed to send everyone home from a press conference feeling far LESS informed than they were when they walked in.
If we are to take Brian Cushing at his word, then we must believe the following:
1.) He is feverishly working with his doctors to figure out why this hCG issue is "reoccurring" when, in fact, subsequent tests have shown that it has not reoccurred at all, and the only time to our knowledge that it occurred in the first place was at the beginning of the 2009 season, a logical time to have taken hCG for a steroid user because you'd likely be cycling down as the season starts. And elevated hCG levels are typically associated with three things -- pregnancy, testicular cancer, and steroid users adjusting their testosterone levels on the back end of a cycle.
2.) And about that whole cancer thing -- I don't want to make light of it. I really don't. However, am I supposed to believe that an athlete as finely tuned and borderline robot-level programmed as Cush-tron the Cyborg Linebacker would just sit around, hope and pray that he didn't have tumors, and not...you know...see an oncologist? Get an MRI? Fondle his own nether regions to see if there's a bump? Something? Anything? Somewhere Tiger's random Buddhism diatribe breathes a sigh of relief as it now has competition for "most head scratching statement uttered in a press statement" this year.
3.) There are roughly 1,700 players in the National Football League. There have been literally thousands of players that have come through the league since it started testing for performance enhancing drugs. So the one guy who triggered a positive test for a non-performance enhancing (according to Cushing) amount of hCG NATURALLY without injection or ingestion is not some random kicker, punter, slot receiver, or quarterback -- it's a guy who has been dogged with rumors of steroids virtually back to his days at Bergen Catholic High School in New Jersey.
Uh, color me skeptical.
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Demeco Ryans, fellow linebacker and team heartbeat, spoke to the media for about as long as Cushing did in what was clearly an attempt to send a second message to everyone in attendance and watching on the internet -- by proxy, Demeco was saying he and his teammates believe Cushing's story and that they support their guy. Not a surprise, that's what teammates do. That's what friends do (unless your friend is Roger Clemens).
Appropriately, the only thing Cushing apologized for was getting suspended, which as best I can tell, is the main thing Texans fans are angry about. However, in the end, I think most fans were hoping for closure today. Apologize, own it, man up, take your medicine, and we can all put the ugliness behind us. If there's one thing we as sports fans are good at, it's forgiving.
Well, we didn't get our closure today on the Cushing situation. Not even close.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show", and follow him on Twittter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.