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Cushing's lawyer sounds off on the league's process

The clumsy P.R. effort on behalf of Texans linebacker Brian Cushing continues.

A day after Cushing stumbled through a prepared statement and unconvincingly answered media questions regarding his four-game suspension for hCG, the man who handled his appeal is complaining about the league’s procedures for dealing with positive drug tests.

Harvey Steinberg, a Denver lawyer who at one point appeared to be on track to represent every member of the Broncos organization, represented Cushing in his effort to avoid a four-game suspension.  Steinberg spoke with Mike Klis of the Denver Post regarding the situation.

The process is flawed,” Steinberg said, a day after his client expressed respect for it.  “You have a situation
where the Commissioner determines the initial punishment and then you
appeal to one of his subordinates.  I have a lot of
respect for the hearing officer.  I really believed he tried to do the
right thing and be fair.  But there is clearly a cloud hanging over the
process.  If nothing else, there is clearly an appearance of
impropriety.”

Harvey, take it up with the NFLPA.  The union long ago agreed to this procedure. 

Still, the fact that anyone who tested positive can piss and/or moan about the process suggests that referring appeals to an outside arbitrator would make the system seem to be more effective, since it would seal off one of the easy points that anyone who receives a suspension can raise.

Steinberg also said that he advised Cushing to refuse at Thursday’s press conference to accept responsibility for the presence of hCG in his body.  “Why should he apologize when he did nothing wrong?” Steinberg said.

Steinberg shouldn’t be expected to go Al Pacino on the guy who pays his bills.  But if Steinberg were as good at P.R. as NFL players and coaches seem to think he is with precedents and statutes, Steinberg would have told Cushing to keep his mouth shut.

In hindsight (or with the application of reasonable foresight), silence would have been far better than the strategy (assuming there even was one) that unfolded on Cushing’s behalf over the past week.  The story remained alive far longer than it should have, and as a result Cushing’s career will now forever be undermined. 

Perhaps most importantly, folks suspended for violating the league’s policy regarding anabolic steroids and related substances possibly will be met with the same stigma that has applied in baseball over the past several years.

So while it was a bad week for Cushing, it may end up in retrospect being a great week for the long-term integrity of the game.

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35 Responses to “Cushing's lawyer sounds off on the league's process”
  1. PriorKnowledge says: May 14, 2010 6:19 PM

    An informative article… Can’t wait for the 50% of the comments whining about Florio for reporting it.

  2. FreeAgentPro says: May 14, 2010 6:20 PM

    At least now we know why Cushing went to Denver. It wasn’t for testing.

  3. Florio-is-a-tool says: May 14, 2010 6:23 PM

    The first thing to do when you’re digging yourself in a hole is to stop digging. I get the impression Cushing is one of the dumbest people around because he insists he’s not digging himself in a hole.
    If he shows up to training camp 10 lbs lighter than his weight last year, it’ll speak louder than any barracuda he pays for.

  4. FreeAgentPro says: May 14, 2010 6:26 PM

    “The process is flawed,” Steinberg said, a day after his client expressed respect for it. “You have a situation where the Commissioner determines the initial punishment and then you appeal to one of his subordinates.
    Isn’t the 4 -game suspension automatic for the first offense of a banned substance? Isn’t the second offense an automantic 8 games? Isn’t this agreed upon in the CBA? This is not a punishment determined by the Commissioner. Why is everyone associated with Brian Cushing hell bent on lying? No wonder he lies.

  5. robert ethen says: May 14, 2010 6:31 PM

    Or perhaps a case of “how long will it be before we have another guy who isn’t a visible minority (his mother is Polish, but that doesn’t help much) on the griddle to serve up as an example? Don’t let this one get away.”.
    Godo’hell and DeMorovusdandem Smith served up Cushing to the Gods of Propriety and Political Correctness.

  6. The Wishbone says: May 14, 2010 6:31 PM

    People don’t watch football for “integrity”. They watch because it’s awesome, because it’s the only sport exciting enough to spend time watching. Brian Cushing hasn’t done anything to the NFL, he’s not that important. He’s just another guy.
    Nothing has changed, Florio.

  7. wxwax says: May 14, 2010 6:32 PM

    First you complain that the NFL took too long to bring the hammer down on Cushing.
    Then, once you discover that the reason it took so long is because the NFL does exhaustive medical testing to eliminate natural causes for the positive test, you slam Cushing for saying he wasn’t sure if he had cancer or not.
    You’re all over the place on this story and your integrity is just a little bit suspect
    I understand that you’re a concerned father. Is that what’s driving your obsession with a guy who failed a drug test and is lying about it? Because there’s absolutely nothing remarkable about the Cushing case except for your odd inability to move on.

  8. AlphaQ2 says: May 14, 2010 6:35 PM

    It is good for the game that this happened, but I acutally feel kind of bad for this kid. We know there are a ton of guys in the NFL who use or have used PED’s. If Cushing had just come out and owned it he would have been much better off. He received some terrible legal advice and will pay the price for the rest of his life.

  9. FreeAgentPro says: May 14, 2010 6:39 PM

    “Steinberg also said that he advised Cushing to refuse at Thursday’s press conference to accept responsibility for the presence of hCG in his body. “Why should he apologize when he did nothing wrong?” Steinberg said.
    Cushing would have been better off with no legal advice. It didn’t take a brainiac to know that the whole world was waiting for Cushing to take responsibility amd move on at that press conference. Everyone associated with Cushing – Steinberg and Tom Condon – look like pure amateurs at representing a clients best interest. They have destroyed his credibility and perhaps career.

  10. sdffa11 says: May 14, 2010 6:39 PM

    the more cushing tries to stand up for himself, the more he is hated and vilified. hey attorney, shut the #!#@ up.

  11. XBOD says: May 14, 2010 6:47 PM

    I’m sick and tired of the Cushing thing- STEROIDS!! SO WHAT they all take them – he got got caught- suspend him and shut up about it…..

  12. Jack Burton says: May 14, 2010 6:49 PM

    What’s it matter at this point, the AP still gave him the award? Hopefully he’ll have the same stigma Bonds/McGwire still have hanging over them.

  13. downwithdansnyder says: May 14, 2010 6:56 PM

    Man these guys remind me of a teenager trying to explain (and lie) their way out of something. I don’t think Cushing appreciates outsiders opinion of him and I don’t think he realizes that the entire world thinks he’s an idiot and a liar. A bad combination. AND if you listen to certain folks he’s been doing this since high school.

  14. Vet735 says: May 14, 2010 6:58 PM

    This affair is so pathetic. He needs to walk away, take his suspension like a man and come back ready to play football. If he comes back and sucks balls, then everyone will know the truth. If this clown files a lawsuit to try and save his bacon, the Texans should cut him.

  15. AlphaQ2 says: May 14, 2010 7:08 PM

    In an ass backwards way the AP may have actually helped the NFL with that re-vote. This would not have been nearly as big a deal if they had not elected the cheater the second time. Who would have thought that by them doing something so dispicable that it would have helped the game? Funny how things work out.

  16. iusedtobeteddybayer says: May 14, 2010 7:09 PM

    All Cushing, all the time. Hell, it’s better than Farve all the time.

  17. FreeAgentPro says: May 14, 2010 7:13 PM

    “Then, once you discover that the reason it took so long is because the NFL does exhaustive medical testing to eliminate natural causes for the positive test, you slam Cushing for saying he wasn’t sure if he had cancer or not.”
    It takes less than two weeks to get results from a CT scan, MRI, ultrasound, and blood tests. I know; I have had all of them done at once, and I didn’t get the fast track attention that the NFL gets. Testing is not time consuming when they know what they are looking for. Time consuming is when they have symptoms but cannot determine the cause. The NFL retested Cushing’s urine a few times times to confirm that hCG was not reoccuring, but those were just routine and results were available within two days. They had already conducted their comprehensive testing and knew there was no underlying medical problem.

  18. MrHumble says: May 14, 2010 7:15 PM

    “If nothing else, there is clearly an appearance of impropriety.”
    Was Steinberg saying this about the NFL Commisioner or his own client. Cushing is a tool, his agent is a tool and none of them know how and when to shut the hell up! They insist on keeping this story in the headlines which is only going to cause people to dig deeper and further…..until cushing ultimately hangs himself.

  19. jrhsd says: May 14, 2010 7:28 PM

    thanks for my laugh of the day robert ethen
    I enjoy laughing at morons that want to turn every topic into a tea party

  20. King Ding A Ling says: May 14, 2010 7:50 PM

    Man, know what would be cool to see? Cushing vs. Florio in a fight to the death match. Each getting weapon of choice. Cush called dibs on the suringe!!!

  21. Tony Snow says: May 14, 2010 7:51 PM

    Dang dude….where you been at? Under a rock?
    Pac Man

  22. benjua says: May 14, 2010 8:01 PM

    does no one think that just maybe he isn’t lying and didn’t do anything wrong. it’s rare to see someone fight back this hard over something like this.

  23. ZombieRevolution says: May 14, 2010 8:16 PM

    “Harvey, take it up with the NFLPA.”
    No that would be like approaching this in a logical manner, going through a process. In this case he is doing a Florio- going public and likely doing so mutiple times. And unlike PFT he is not likely speculating- he likely knows all the details about the case.

  24. FreeAgentPro says: May 14, 2010 8:24 PM

    ..”.until cushing ultimately hangs himself”
    Haha, Mr. Humble. Exactly. Brian Cushing is gonna think everyone is looking at his moobs for the rest of his life. Or his women looking at his shriveled cajunes. Sooner or later, he might hang himself.

  25. Wyrdawg says: May 14, 2010 8:38 PM

    As they keep spinning, the rest of the world keeps unraveling. Dude has been the laughing stock of Sirius NFL radio all day. ALL day. Their “explanation” has created a firestorm. Folks are calling in to offer up their professional advice to debunk it. Bottom line is: yeah, it’s plausible, but dude would’ve been so sick.. there’s no way he would’ve been playing and spit out that result.
    Maybe Cushing’s hired hands need to take a break and take stock.. everyone knows this is BS. Apparently, his reps don’t realize this is the off-season. Folks are gonna eat your lunch if you bring this BS.

  26. JimmySmith says: May 14, 2010 9:48 PM

    Cushing needs to man up and take his punishment just like the Williams sisters did in Minneapolis, oh wait, never mind.

  27. Good Riddens Mcnabb says: May 14, 2010 10:23 PM

    Jesus, Florio enough with the Cushing post. What are you guys gay lovers?

  28. StevieMo says: May 14, 2010 11:37 PM

    Once a steroid user, always a liar….

  29. GetOverIt! says: May 14, 2010 11:37 PM

    Brrrrrrriiinnnggg…
    Brrrrrrriiinnnggg…
    Uh, Faggio, this is Steve Smith.
    Still here waiting for yo candy ass to back up your words, punk.

  30. pondbridge says: May 15, 2010 4:15 AM

    Is Cushing ust trying to get his attitude revved for when he returns to play in Week 5? That might help explain his disastrous PR strategy after being caught. Or maybe he’s mad that he lost the only endorsement account he might ever be suited for, Baby Huey brand adult diapers.
    Who missed the drooping nipples in the physical inspects at the combine a year ago? Dead giveaway– that along with a 40 inch neck.

  31. Gailikk says: May 15, 2010 8:25 AM

    wxwax,
    Everyone is criticizing Cushing on his “potential cancer scare” because it does not exist. If cushing so feared having cancer, why did he depend on the NFL to get him tested? I would have visited a doctor the next day, even if it cost me a game. No team in the world would have told him no, because the PR hit from telling a man who might have cancer that they expect him to show up and play would have murdered the team. No, cushing let the NFL do its thing and is now hoping to fool people (Roberthethan for one) into believing that he never took steriods. Apply Occums razor to this situation (the simplest solution is usually the correct one). He isn’t a women, and he hasn’t tested positive for cancer. Therefor he took the drug. The rest of what cushing say’s is just B.S. in an attempt to fool the world.

  32. Opie says: May 15, 2010 8:41 AM

    @ wxwax: you hit the nail on the proverbial head.
    Cornflorio: I struggle sometimes trying to get my head around your conflicting posts. Initially, you were on Cushing for NOT coming forward and defending himself. Then you were on his arse for saying “he thought he might have cancer.” Now, you think he should’ve just remained silent……
    Come on, man!

  33. GoBrowns19 says: May 15, 2010 9:23 AM

    Yeah! If my guy’s going to cheat, he should be treated fairly!

  34. coach carl says: May 15, 2010 10:32 AM

    The really unusual part of this story is how PFT is willing to say about the NFL’s process…. “get over it-the NFLPA agreed long ago…” while in the case of the Williams boys up in Minnesota, the process is compared to the Spanish Inquisition and is such an unfair practice as to make it a moot point…..

  35. banker1973 says: May 15, 2010 11:54 AM

    This is from today’s Houston Chronicle…
    “Meanwhile, Steinberg based a big part of his appeal on Cushing’s enlarged pituitary gland and a surgical procedure he had while at USC.
    “He had a pre-existing medical condition (involving an enlarged pituitary gland) that was consistent with the natural production of hCG in males,” Steinberg said. “They came out in the hearing, and they were documented.
    “We learned that he had a particular medical condition that was consistent with natural production in the body of this banned substance. We felt with the low levels at which it tested was also consistent with natural production.
    “We did research and found out that his was a plausible explanation. We consulted an expert who suggested further testing. We became convinced that this was a situation that was naturally produced.”
    Florio, why haven’t you posted this?

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