Well, that shameful P.R. campaign orchestrated by and/or on behalf of Texans linebacker Brian Cushing — and aided and abetted by folks in the media who parroted the party line without scrutiny or skepticism, all in the hopes of being first — has worked. Cushing’s camp fooled enough of the AP voters to retain the defensive rookie of the year award, which likely means that the duly embarrassed AP will never dare to open Pandora’s box again.
But now Cushing has been given an opportunity to lay the foundation for a long-term career that could be marked by something other than the proverbial scarlet letter of banned substances.
Cushing can emerge from this ordeal as the bigger man (figuratively, not literally) by declining to accept the honor.
Of course, that same attitude would have prompted him not to take hCG last year, a banned hormone that occurs naturally in the body, just like hGH. The substance is banned because it’s taken as a steroids chaser, and the fact that Cushing had hCG in his system in September fits with the theory that he used steroids in August to help speed recovery from a knee injury that threatened to keep him from being ready to play in Week One of the regular season.
But men can grow (again, figuratively). Cushing has an opportunity to emerge from the shadows, to address the positive result and the suspension, to tell the truth about what he took and why he took it, to embrace the consequences, to commit to being clean in the future, and to refuse to accept an award that was secured via a violation of the rules.
It’s your move, Brian. You’ve got an opportunity to properly atone for the situation, and also to make the kind of statement that may deter other kids from embarking on the same path.
Misguided as it was, the outcome of the AP vote has created one benefit. It has kept Cushing from becoming a sympathetic figure. Unless and until he chooses to handle this situation the right way, the operative word will be simply “pathetic.”