Friday, December 29, 2006

The Weak Argument For Merriman

The "enhanced" player of the year...

We posted the other day on Jason Taylor's comments regarding Shawne Merriman (IRT defensive player of the year voting).

Today, the hometown paper of the Charger's, the San Diego Union-Tribune, ran a column pretty much stating: i) Taylor was just trying to get himself the defensive POY and ii) that having a "convicted" performance enhancer as the player of the year was just fine. The homer writer of this column must be doing some extra sucking up to get on Merriman and the Chargers' good side.

"A data search of players who previously tested positive for steroids made no mention of critical remarks by Taylor, including in 2002 when Carolina end Julius Peppers was named Defensive Rookie of the Year despite serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy. Why no moral indignation from Taylor then? Could it be that the situation didn't directly affect Taylor, unlike this one?"

First of all, Julius Peppers didn't test positive for STEROIDS. He tested positive for phentermine. Phentermine is on the banned list, not so much for its performance enhancing effects, but moreso because it is (like ephedrine) a compound which is usually used in trying to burn body fat and can be very harmful to some people. Additionally, SO WHAT? What is wrong with standing up and pointing out the fact that the guy that is probably you closest rival for this particular award is..........A CHEATER? Whatsmore, this isn't a case of a rumor or behind the scenes stuff: Merriman tested positive for NANDROLONE (a steroid). Maybe Taylor's interest in casting the spotlight on this is selfish; but, the effects could benefit other players.

"Since Taylor is a candidate for the award himself, an alarm of suspicion began ringing. Might he be tearing down a colleague to prop up himself?"

Merriman tore himself down by using the steroids. If he hadn't, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Don't blame Taylor for this.

"When I submitted my All-Pro ballot to Pro Football Weekly, in conjunction with the Pro Football Writers of America, I listed Merriman as the Defensive Player of the Year. And when I enter the room of Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors in February for the first time, I will vote for former Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin.

And now, the argument itself gets so weak, one wouldn't be surprised if it got on some performance enhancers:

What does Michael Irvin's situation of having OFF the field recreational drug and law issues have to do with Merriman's using performance enhancing drugs (that are taken to elevate one's level of play ON the field)? Irvin's situation is about character and whether off the field life should be taken into account in evaluating a player's qualifications to make the Hall of Fame. Irvin never failed performance drug tests and was never called a cheater. Merriman's situation is about whether a guy who tested positive for using performance enhancing drugs should be the player of the year for the same period of time that it is PROVEN he was using performance enhancing drugs. Does anyone see ANY connection here? Didn't think so...

"In each situation, the guidelines implicitly or explicitly ask that we cast our votes based on a player's dominance. Irvin was a dominant performer then, and Merriman is now."

Agreed. Irvin was a dominant performer. And Frank Sinatra was a great singer. How does either relate to Merriman? They don't! The guidelines may implicitly or explicity ask that votes be cast based on a player's dominance. But they don't implicitly or explicity ask that voters dismiss the fact that a minimum of half the season's dominance (and, having a knowledge of performance enhancers and how long the effects can last, we would suggest the entire season) under the influence of documented steroid use be dismissed. Again, this has nothing to do with the debate about OFF the field issues, a la Irvin.

While, this homer columnist builds an incredibly weak agrument in support of Merriman, probably in an effort to gain points with Merriman and the Chargers, what if he is right? It begs the question: If voters are correct in disregarding PERFORMANCE enhancing drug usage and failed tests in deciding the player of the year; why bother testing at all?

In fact, I bet this guy would vote for Justin Gatlin as Track Athlete of the Year and Floyd Landis as Cyclist of they year...if they were from San Diego.

If we aren't supposed to care that the guy that gets player of the year is a juice monkey, then it is a complete charade and disservice to go through the motions of having a performance enhancement testing program in the NFL at all.

Give the Defensive Player of the Year Award to Shawne Merriman, if you must. But the next day, tear up the banned substance list and tell the boys they don't have to fill up anymore plastic cups.


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