At least two players in the National Football League have it right. Both Champ Bailey of the Broncos and Jason Taylor of the Dolphins have been outspoken from the word go about what the league should do and the punishment that should be laid down to players that get caught using banned substances. This past week has been one of tension, as both Bailey and Taylor are in Hawaii, along with Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman, who was beaten up and down in the papers by the pair for getting suspended earlier this year for using illegal substances. Word from Hawaii is that Bailey and Taylor have spoken to Merriman about the comments they made against him and made their peace with the up and coming superstar.
The good thing though is despite them talking with Merriman, they are still coming out in support of tougher penalties for those that get caught. It’s good to see that they are not backing down from their stances just because the season has ended or that because they have to share a locker room for a few days with Merriman. Bailey spoke out Thursday about the league needing to do more against those that get caught – “There definitely should be more punishment than just four games, after four games the stuff is still in your system, you’ve got to do more than that.”
Bailey is one of the few players in the league that is strong enough to come out and call those that use illegal substances exactly what they are – cheaters. “We don’t want anybody cheating,” Bailey said. “If you’re cheating, something should be done to you, plain and simple. I don’t care about protecting anybody that’s cheating. If you’re cheating, I don’t want you on the field with me.” Bailey’s words echo that of commish Roger Goodell, who came out during the Super Bowl week and said that the league should take a closer look at the punishment’s that are handed down for those that get caught.
One rule that has been passed already is that if you get caught with an illegal substance, you cannot play in the Pro Bowl that season. Thus, one year from now if Merriman had been caught, he would not be enjoying the sun and splash of Hawaii as the rest of the AFC players are. The league is also looking at testing for HGH, a substance that they currently do not test for, but are looking for an accurate test before putting the policy in place. Another step in the right direction for a league that cannot afford to get caught in the same trap as baseball.
Let’s face it, baseball is tainted right now due to the cheating that has gone on for years without any action being taken. At least the NFL, and a few strong-willed players are willing to speak out for what is right. I’m not saying that Merriman should be banned for life or not be allowed to earn a living, but the punishment that was passed down this past season, a mere four games, should have been longer and more severe. Hopefully the league continues to work to make players simply realize they cannot afford to use those substances to get ahead. And more players will speak out for what is right in this league.