Who Juiced? The Bigger Question: Who Should Care? [OPINION]
You athletes with your deer antler extract and needles and PEDs — just who do you think you are, performers looking to give your sports and your fans exactly what they want?
Why do we care about this anymore? The PED stuff has worn out its welcome with me like a Ronaiah Tuiasosopo autograph booth at a Notre Dame pep rally. I don’t — can’t — care.
International Cycling Union chief, Pat McQuaid, vacates the seven years Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France and says they never happened, in large part because he didn’t have a runner-up who was clean enough to be handed a yellow jersey.
I’m sure cycling was happy with using Armstrong as a key to open the United States’ ample sports sponsor vault at the time, though. Some money has quit in the wake of Lance’s lamed legacy, but how much of a boost did the sport get when it was on SportsCenter every night following Le Lance as we learned words like Peloton and Pyrenees?
Bottom line: they forced a proud man into an Oprah interview! Happy now?
DEAR IN HEADLIGHTS
Sports Illustrated says Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was so desperate to get back on the field after his severe triceps injury this season, he called up Sports With Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS) and said, “Hit me with your best shots.”
Interestingly, one of their best isn’t a shot, it’s extract from the antler velvet of a species of deer found only in New Zealand. And you spray it under your tongue.
Think Binaca for bodybuilding. Tastes like kiwi.
No official word on side effects, but if Ray Lewis ever gets hit by a car after freezing in its high beams, we’ll know.
Think NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell might want to take back that big hug he gave Lewis before the AFC Championship game?
No, probably not. Like Ray Lewis, it worked for the league at the time. The NFL benefits from Ray Lewis’ beatification. Saint Ray is a Hall of Fame name for sure. Instead of a halo, he’ll get a yellow blazer. He will grace Canton, OH, and those “Top 10 Linebackers” time-filler shows on the NFL Network forever.
YANKS WANT A-ROD TO BE POSITIVE
As for Alex Rodriguez and the Miami Pound Machine called Biogenesis, the Miami New Times says the company and A-Rod were only too happy to work together to build that muscle mass. Melky Cabrera and a few others, too.
If that one sticks, we hear the Yankees will pull out every stop to void what is now baseball’s richest disability payment. And then there’s what they pay him when he’s hurt.
Jerks and maybe murderers getting what they deserve, you say? Unions and teams and leagues covering their tracks, I say.
Hear this: I. Don’t. Care. If. They. Juiced.
Accept that every one of these guys is already an exceptional athlete, beyond even the lofty standards of their sports. Even A-Rod.
Accept that, in addition to personal riches, every one of these guys has brought in not only money to their respective sports, but also attention, identity and legacy.
Legacy is of the utmost importance, because the organizations of organized sports need their best athletes to keep moving the needle forward, to break records like when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were helping us forget about the strike.
They need stars, because a league without stars is Major League Soccer without David Beckham. (Sorry, American soccer fans; that hurts me, too.)
No sport has been caught with its pants down on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs like Major League Baseball, with a commissioner who was a team owner at the height of the steroid era, where everybody winked — including all of us in the stands — while McGwire and Sosa and Bonds and Clemens moved that needle. Literally, into their veins.
MLB’s stark hypocrisy in the face of steroids show us what we should know about every other league, union and association. Namely, that they all need familiar faces to grace the marquee.
And the bigger the face on the marquee, the easier it is to cut and paste it onto a dart board when fans don’t like the movie anymore.