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Last week Texans owner Bob McNair visited with Commissioner Roger Goodell in an effort to convince him to lift the four-game suspension on LB Brian Cushing for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs.
Cushing has continually denied that he took a banned substance even claiming that he had something called "overtrained athlete syndrome."
McNair's efforts at overturning the suspension were not successful, the NFL said in a statement on Thursday.
"At the request of Texans owner Bob McNair, Commissioner Goodell reviewed additional medical information presented on behalf of Brian Cushing. The club and Cushing were notified today that after carefully considering all the information, including a review by outside medical experts, the Commissioner finds no basis for changing the decision and that Mr. Cushing's suspension for the first four games of the regular season remains in place."
And that's that. Cushing will be suspended the first four games of the 2010 NFL season.
Check out Battle Red Blog for more on Brian Cushing's suspension.
Lost amidst the uproar of Brian Cushing winning the rookie of the year award for a second time was that he did not reclaim his spot on the second team all-pro list.
The beneficiaries of Cushing's elevated levels of hCG are the Steelers James Harrison and the Bears Lance Briggs. The two linebackers tied for second team all-pro.
For Harrison, this is his second appearance on the all-pro team. He made it in 2008 when he was also the defensive player of the year.
For Briggs, this is also the second time he's landed on the all-pro list. He was on there in 2005 as well.
Brian Cushing held a press conference on Thursday afternoon to explain his violation of the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy that landed him a four-game suspension.
"I tested positive for such a small amount it can't be performancing enhancing," Cushing said during a press conference at Reliant Stadium. "I've got to get medical help to find out what it happened and to keep it from happening again. I'm not going to change my workout regime or anything I do because I know I haven't done anything wrong."
Then things got a little bizarre when he said doctors told him the way hCG could have gotten into his body is "through injection or by having a tumor." He found out about the positive test in October and said he spent the rest of the season fearful that he might die from the possibility of having a tumor.
He said prior to this incident he wasn't familiar with hCG.
He also did not agree with a few folks that think he should have given back his rookie of the year award.
The AP has released a breakdown of who voted for whom in the re-vote of the rookie of the year award.
There are a few interesting notes here:
KEPT BRIAN CUSHING (17)
Don Banks, Sports Illustrated.com
Bob Berger, Sporting News Radio
Chris Berman, ESPN
Steve Cohen, Sirius Satellite Radio
Frank Cooney, SportsXChange
Mark Craig, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Tom Curran, Comcast Sportsnet
Vinny Ditrani, The Record
Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News
Paul Gutierrez, Sacramento Bee
Clark Judge, CBSSports.com
John McClain, Houston Chronicle
Gary Myers, New York Daily News
Danny O'Neil, Seattle Times
Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com
Adam Teicher, Kansas City Star
Charean Williams Fort Worth Star-Telegram
KEPT JAIRUS BYRD (4)
Brian Allee-Walsh, New Orleans.com
Paul Domowitch, Philadelphia Daily News
Ashley Fox, Philadelphia Inquirer
Armando Salguero, Miami Herald
KEPT CLAY MATTHEWS (3)
Jim Corbett, USA Today
Tony Grossi, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Kent Somers, Arizona Republic
CHANGED TO BRIAN CUSHING (1)
Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Jairus Byrd)
CHANGED FROM BRIAN CUSHING (19)
Jarrett Bell, USA Today (Jairus Byrd)
Clifton Brown, The Sporting News (Jairus Byrd)
Rich Cimini, New York Daily News (Clay Matthews)
John Clayton, ESPN The Magazine (Clay Matthews)
Bob Costas, HBO/NBC Sports (Clay Matthews)
John Czarnecki, Fox Sports (Brian Orakpo)
Boomer Esiason, CBS/Westwood One (Jairus Byrd)
Mark Gaughan, Buffalo News (Jairus Byrd)
Nancy Gay, AOL Fanhouse (Jairus Byrd)
Bob Glauber, Newsday (Jairus Byrd)
Dave Goldberg, AOL Fanhouse (Clay Matthews)
Ira Kaufman, Tampa Tribune (Jairus Byrd)
Peter King, Sports Illustrated (Clay Matthews)
Matt Maiocco, Santa Rosa Press Democrat (Clay Matthews)
Alex Marvez, Foxsports.com (Jairus Byrd)
Pat McManamon, Akron Beacon Journal (Jairus Byrd)
Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune (Clay Matthews)
Adam Schein, Sirius NFL Radio (Brian Orakpo)
Frank Schwab, Colorado Springs Gazette (Clay Matthews)
Chris Mortensen, ESPN
Tom Silverstein, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Note: Both had Cushing in the original balloting.
CHANGED FROM JAIRUS BYRD (2)
Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Brian Cushing)
David Elfin, Washington Times (Brian Orakpo)
CHANGED FROM BRIAN ORAKPO (2)
Howard Balzer, Fox Sports Net (James Laurinaitis)
Len Shapiro, Miami Herald (Clay Matthews)
NOT AVAILABLE (1)
Howie Long, Fox Sports
With everyone focused on Brian Cushing and the rookie of the year award, some have forgotten that he was voted to the AP's second team All-Pro. That spot was also up for grabs in the AP's unprecedented re-vote.
According to the Texans official site, Cushing lost his spot on the team.
He had previously received five votes but with the re-vote he lost four of those votes.
It's not clear this point who will take Cushing's spot among the second team All-Pro outside linebackers. He finished third in the original vote.
After all the debate, Texans LB Brian Cushing retained his rookie of the year award, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Associated Press voters turned in their ballots for rookie of the year a second time -- this time, though, they had full knowledge of Cushing's violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
The first time around, Cushing received 39 of 50 first place votes. This time he received 18.
Bills S Jairus Byrd came in second place once again with 13 votes. He received six the first time.
Packers LB Clay Matthews got 10 votes which is up from three the last time.
Redskins LB Brian Orakpo gained one vote moving from two to three.
Rams LB James Laurinaitis, who didn't receive a vote the first time, had one the second go around.
That's 45 total votes. Three of the voters were unavailable and two abstained. ESPN's Chris Mortensen was one of the folks that abstained.
SB Nation's Acme Packing Company has taken notice of the re-vote going on with the AP's rookie of the year award. If it were up to them, Clay Matthews would be getting the award.
Despite my bias for Matthews, I still wouldn't put a safety ahead of pass rusher in general. All 11 defensive players have to play their role, but it's rare that a safety is considered the best player on defense and usually the best defender is also the best pass rusher. It's a more important position. Brian at Buffalo Rumblings says Byrd should win because some of his INTs were "momentum shifters" during big victories. Ironically Matthews biggest plays were in losses such as the fumble recovery at Minnesota and his big game in Pittsburgh. But in every game I noticed his presence and he stood out.
Matthews ended up with three of the 50 votes in the original voting.
The executive director of the NFL Player's Association, DeMaurice Smith, has issued a statement on performance-enhancing drugs in light of the Brian Cushing's suspension.
"Sport is at its best when fans can witness great achievements under the rules of fair play. Players who break those rules cheat the game, cheat the fans and cheat themselves. The Players want a clean game as well as a clean process for enforcing those rules. We intend to address both in the collective bargaining process to make the system better."
It's pretty much undisputed that Cushing tested positive for a substance that was banned by the NFL so Smith is essentially saying Cushing is a cheater, which is a strong statement from the head of the NFLPA.
Coming in second in the AP rookie of the year voting was Bills S Jairus Byrd. Now that the AP is conducting a redo on that vote, let's take a look at what SB Nation's Buffalo Rumblings has to say about Byrd's chances of winning:
All I know is this: it's not often that free safeties completely change the landscape of a game all by themselves. Byrd's big plays were huge momentum shifters in mid-season wins over the eventual AFC runner-up New York Jets and the Carolina Panthers. He recorded eight of his nine interceptions in a five-game stretch from October to November. I thought he should have won the award originally (perhaps I'm a bit biased), and now that opportunity exists once again.
The Bills didn't have a lot of game-changers on defense so Byrd stood out. But did he have a better campaign than Cushing (PEDs or not), Clay Matthews or Brian Orakpo?
The last vote, Byrd received six of a possible 50 votes so he's got a long road ahead of him.
The reason most folks would know what hCG is because it's what pregnancy tests for. In males, however, there are slightly elevated levels of hCG after ejaculation, which is what ESPN's Adam Schefter reported. According to Will Carroll, that doesn't mean much.
HCG can be detected at 20 to 100 ppm. NFL threshhold is unknown, but is likely the standard of 50 ppm. Natural levels in men near zero.
hCG in itself does not make you bigger like what you think of with steroids. It's used after a steroid cycle to essentially "kick start" the testicles to start working again. It's not masking steroids or anything like that. It's a substance commonly used after a steroid cycle so, as Carroll suggests, Cushing was likely using during training camp if the test came in September.
It stays in your system for a short time so, as Carroll explains, it's "telling" that he was caught.
This is the same substance that got Manny Ramirez banned from MLB last season.
After Brian Cushing tested positive for a banned substance, most folks wanted to know what it was. After he came out and said it was not steroids and he had a lie detector test to prove it, folks really wanted to know.
Well, here it is: Cushing had slightly elevated levels of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
it is in seminal fluid and slightly elevated levels can be discovered in the event that a test occurs soon after ejaculation.
That's what Schefter (who has strangely been pro-Cushing through this story) says about it. And here's Wikipedia:
It's also commonly used during and after steroid cycles to maintain and restore testicular size as well as normal testosterone production.
You be the judge on why his levels of hCG were elevated.
Brian Cushing received 39 of a possible 50 votes for the Associated Press rookie of the year award when the voting took place at the end of the season. Now that he's been suspended for performance enhancing drugs, the question becomes how many votes he'll get.
Well, at least one vote, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
I voted for Cushing for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award the day after the season, and I voted for him again today. Why? Because a lot of players have won AP awards after being suspended.
McClain cites Julius Peppers dirty test after winning the AP's rookie of the year award as well as Kevin Williams being voted an All-Pro despite the StarCaps situation.
The final vote -- which some think is already leaning toward Cushing winning again -- is set to be released on Wednesday, but the results will likely leak out sooner than that.
After Brian Cushing's suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, quite a few folks were upset because he had the Associated Press rookie of the year award. He was also a second team All-Pro, courtesy of AP voters.
Those that were upset at this are getting their wish. According to various reports, the AP will conduct a re-vote for the rookie of the year.
Cushing is still eligible but voters are now filling out their ballots knowing that he violated the PED policy his rookie year.
Last year, Cushing received 39 votes, Jairus Byrd had six, Clay Matthews landed three and Brian Orakpo had two. Presumably, Cushing will not end up with 39 votes or more this time.
The AP is also conducting a re-vote for outside linebacker on the All-Pro team.
Texans LB Brian Cushing took a lie detector test to prove he did not take a performance enhancing drug, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Cushing has denied all along that he took a PED.
The results of his lie detector test, according to Schefter, demonstrated that he did not take a PED.
The NFL doesn't recognize lie detector tests so the suspension obviously still stands but this is Cushing's effort to avoid becoming the NFL poster boy for steroids.
Dating back to high school, Cushing has been surrounded by accusations that he was using steroids or other PEDs. Now that he's guilty -- whether that's because of a PED or a masking agent -- all those accusations have a new found validity.
Lie detector test or not, Cushing will be suspended.
The rookie of the year award in the NFL is handed out by the Associated Press. This is the one everyone pays attention to and it happens to be the one that Texans LB Brian Cushing won in 2009.
Now, Cushing has violated the NFL's performance enhancing drugs policy. Whatever the drug was, it definitely helped him win the award in 2009 seeing as the positive test came in September of 2009.
This has caused an outcry of folks demanding that his rookie of the year award be stripped. As it turns out, the AP is listening. AP writer Dave Goldberg tweets a "re-vote is possible". Implicit in those words are that the AP is indeed discussing whether or not to allow Cushing to retain the award.
If the award is stripped, it would lead to a barrage of questions:
The AP has a panel of 50 voters for seven individual awards and the All-Pro team.
The NFL declined to comment on the matter telling SB Nation, "The award you are referencing is administrated by The Associated Press and is not affiliated with the NFL."
For more developments on this story, check out SB Nation's Battle Red Blog.
Jay Glazer of FOX Sports talked to Texans LB Brian Cushing after he heard he had been suspended for the first four games of the season.
Cushing tells Glazer the violation came during a random test during the 2009 season.
Cushing also says steroids did not trigger the violation. It's possible that it was a substance used to mask steroids but that's speculative.
He learned of the suspension in February and was "stunned" when he lost the appeal.
Whether he has a good excuse or not, Cushing will be out week 1-4 for the Texans.
The four-game suspension for Texans LB Brian Cushing has fans "disappointed, but not shocked" according to SB Nation's Battle Red Blog.
As they explain, there have been rumors linking Cushing to steroids since his college days. It was always in the back of their minds.
After the 2009 NFL Draft, the whispers got much quieter. And once Cushing took the field as a Houston Texan and had about as impressive a rookie campaign as a linebacker could have, any remaining doubts were, if not eliminated, silenced. I'm as guilty as anyone in this regard. When the Texans selected Cushing, I was rather vocal about my disapproval of the pick, and part of my disgust was because of the link, rumored or not, to banned substances. Once the season came? I shut up and cheered.
Brian Cushing's positive test that ultimately violated the NFL's steroid policy came in 2009, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports.
This is an important distinction because it indicates whatever banned substance he was taking apparently was utilized during the season. This is different than another player, like Dwayne Bowe, who tested positive for a diuretic during the offseason. That said, it's still against the rules at any time.
Meanwhile, Cushing's suspension drew a statement from the Texans owner, Bob McNair. It's usually not a good thing for an owner to make public comments about you.
“We're very disappointed, and he's disappointed, too,” Texans owner Bob McNair said Friday. “It was a surprise to us. Unfortunately, these things happen in the NFL. They're like injuries in that you can never predict them.”
Except...these things don't just happen. They happen because the player has taken a substance banned by the NFL. If this is a StarCaps-type situation, where the banned substance wasn't listed as an ingredient, then it's different. But the majority of the time, these violations are clearly preventable.
The NFL's rookie of the year will be suspended for the first four weeks of the season.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Cushing is being suspended for violating the NFL's steroid policy.
Cushing appealed the league's decision at a hearing at the NFL scouting combine in February but was informed Friday his appeal had been rejected, according to sources.
He will be able to participate in training camp leading up to his suspension.
The Texans defense will suffer without Cushing, especially considering that its first game of the season is against the defending AFC South champion Indianapolis Colts. Cushing will also miss games against the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders.