While I appreciate the Associated Press granting me the opportunity to make like Dr. Sam Beckett in "Quantum Leap" and make right what once went wrong, in the end, it didn't really matter.
Yup, as one of the 50 A.P. voters charged with selecting the annual NFL All-Pro team and individual winners, I cast my ballot for Brian Cushing for defensive rookie of the year back in January. I held my nose and voted for the Houston outside linebacker again early Wednesday morning. Call it a "protest vote," of sorts. As I opined in the paper today, Cushing being crowned the winner again, despite testing positive for a banned substance early in the season, is a justifiable stain on the league, the players union and the appeals process itself.
Because really, if Cushing tested positive in September for the banned female fertility drug hCG, a purported masking agent for steroids, what in the name of Kate Gosselin, Octomom and Manny Ramirez was Cushing doing still playing? Why was he not suspended immediately, thus news of his positive test flowing freely, damn the inevitable appeal? At least then the voters would have had all the necessary information at hand when casting their original votes.
Because it took the appeals process so long to work itself out, thus, allowing a cheat to play on, news of his positive test did not leak out until last week, prompting A.P. to enact the slippery slope revote.
Still, Cushing will miss the first four games of the 2010 season, including the Texans' Oct. 3 game at the Coliseum against the Raiders. He was an absolute beast in Houston's 29-6 defeat of the Raiders at Reliant Stadium last Oct. 4. His third-quarter safety, a smothering tackle of Justin Fargas in the end zone, preceded Jacoby Jones' 95-yard free-kick return that iced the game.
I'm not endorsing a steroid user, far from it. It should also be noted that Cushing was reportedly tested randomly the rest of the season and passed them all. In fact, I'm of the mind he should have been suspended immediately. He was not, so here we are. To think he is the only guy in the NFL "juicing" would be naïve. He just got caught, so to speak.
So go ahead, call my vote an endorsement of a cheater; I'm calling it a vote of protest against a system in need of some serious tweaking.