News item: Three members of the New Orleans Saints – running back Deuce McAllister and defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant – are among a number of NFL players confirmed to have tested positive under the NFL’s steroid policy. League sources on Saturday said that the number of pending cases on the positive tests in violation of the steroids policy is eight.
On the main page of ESPN.com, this story received less play than the World Series, two college football games, the Breeders Cup and the travails of Isiah Thomas. Most newspapers will treat it about the same way. No big deal.
Now imagine if eight baseball players had tested positive.
It would be the main story everywhere. The hang-wringing columnists who love to inflict their morality on us would rush to their laptops to condemn Bud Selig and Donald Fehr. You would get the usual toothless demands for an investigation from publicity-hungry Congressmen and assorted speculation about who else was involved. Jeff Novitzky would swing into action, eager to mound another head on his wall.
But because football is held to a lesser standard than baseball, nobody much cares that those players tested positive. Or that the NFL’s testing system somehow allows for a lengthy delay between a positive test and suspension. There will be more written about what fantasy league moves should be made if McAllister gets suspended.
To be sure, baseball had a serious problem and still does in the Dominican Republic. I suspect a large percentage of players used steroids or amphetamines – or both – up until the last few seasons. The game is changing because of it as teams try and rid themselves of aging players who are used to receiving a pharmaceutical boost.
But why does the NFL get a free pass? Next time there’s talk of a “scandal” in baseball, think about that.