Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Banned substance denials and religious affirmations dominate the headlines when superstar athletes are given the chance to speak before the Super Bowl.
1. I understand that my chance to jumpstart and sustain an NFL career at this point in my life is...slim. Despite this stark dose of reality, I still find myself wondering if I should be taking HGH. When I play pickup basketball or get onto the touch football field, am I being exploited by 40-something dudes that have access to deer antlers? Surely the only explanation for my alleged declining skills is the massive consumption of human growth hormones by all the other neighborhood dads. I think I might be officially desensitized to the negative aspects of HGH. I am sure they exist, but the only consequences I currently see of taking HGH are superstardom, mega-wealth, commercial endorsements and contracts with ESPN.
2. If you think about the careless manner in which many of us throw back cans of beer, bottles of booze and wine spritzers (don't want to forget about Kevin), the prospect of an occasional shot of spiked B12 in the ol' caboose--Palmeiro-style--or an application of what can only be characterized as the most magical cream I have ever heard of on your knees and/or other joints does not sound like that bad of an idea. This is at least part of the problem we face as we wake up to yet another day and yet another story of high-profile athletes continuing PED usage.
3. I am desperately trying to muster up some degree of of shock and surprise at the latest report out of the Miami New Times regarding PED use by the biggest names in sports. I recall Alex Rodriguez telling all of us that he was done taking performance enhancers at a highly publicized press conference a few years ago. I think I was more surprised that a man who had turned PED use into hundreds of millions of dollars was turning his back on the substances that seemed to be keeping him employed.
4. As Ray Lewis faces questions regarding his possible/alleged use of deer antler extract (SPOILER ALERT: he is denying the report), I find myself unsuccessfully begging myself to care. I am more interested in knowing if the wall of my buddy's basement--crammed with the heads of all the deer he has hunted and killed--is full of the material necessary to take my Wiffle Ball game to the next level.
5. There will be lots of talk and negotiating in the coming months regarding when and how to test NFL players for HGH. Once they agree on some kind of methodology, we can all rest assured of a few things: A) Some players will still use them; B) Some players will continue to get away with using them; C) some chemist or doctor will invent the next "thing" that is not being tested for that will help athletes heal, train and perform better.
6. I hate to sound glib when discussing this matter because, as a father of future professional millionaire athletes (aren't we all?), the last thing you want is to live in a world where your kids think that the only path to athletic success is through the tip of a syringe. The problem is...well, part of the problem is me. And you. I simply love sports. I love the athletes who compete in these games. I toast them at tailgates, and reverently explain their greatness to my wife and children--during commercials of course (because while the game is on, there is nothing more important). These guys sit on pedestals created by us. They have bank accounts funded by us. They aren't about to blow that simply because age and injury would otherwise dictate a shorter shelf life. This isn't to suggest I agree with the decision made by these athletes. It is just the "hands-in-the-air," "what else is new?" attitude I seem to have developed lately.
7. Over the last 15 years or so, give or take, how many of our sports heroes would you be willing to SWEAR on a Bible had never engaged in any PED use? There are some, but honestly ask yourself: how surprised would you REALLY be if you learned that one of your all-time favorite athletes was suspected of PED use? Have we exhausted all of our outrage on the subject?
8. As long as we are beating dead horses (Parks, where are you on this?), how about the religious aspect of games like the Super Bowl? In an article over at cnnsi.com, a study suggests that close to three million Americans believe that the outcome of the Super Bowl is predetermined by God. Further, over half of Americans believe that faith-filled athletes are rewarded with success by God. I am willing to make the leap that those same people believe that if they are faith-filled and pray for results that are favorable to them, God just might reward them. And yes, I have prayed for a desirable outcome at FedEx before, so consider me in this group. SOOOOOOO.......
9. This begs the question: If you sob your way through one of the most nationally televised prayers during a national anthem of all time, is it possible you have succeeded in getting the millions of viewers who share your faith to heap their prayers on top of yours, thereby increasing your overall chances of winning before ever stepping foot on the field? Of course, you would have to deny intentionally engaging in that practice (perhaps even scoffing at the mere suggestion). Then again, it is awards show season. God is busy deciding who wins SAG awards, Golden Globes, and Oscars. You will need all the help you can get getting the Almighty to weigh in on your big game this time of year.
10. As long as we are cramming microphones and cameras into the faces of millionaires with publicists and agents and image consultants, expect to keep hearing a steady diet of denials regarding banned substances, and of acceptances of the Lord. For some of these guys, it's all part of the playbook (to the detriment of those who are legitimately sincere). We are lucky though--we have just witnessed what will surely become a mainstay of this playbook: once all the glory has been basked in, and the money is safely invested and protected, Oprah will host your "confession." Just when we thought Oprah had abandoned America, she shows back up to provide us all with the ultimate stage for retired athletes to come clean and try as hard as possible to garner what they hope will be the beginning of a wave of public sympathy and support!
I think God is leaning towards San Francisco in this one, by the way. The deer antlers, on the other hand, are all decked out in purple camouflage. HGH has already won, so it really doesn't care.