Who is the Defensive Player of the Year?
Dolphins' DE Jason Taylor is having a monster season. He has taken his game to another level this year and is at or near the top of the list discussing the defensive player of the year.
During a press conference, Taylor did some lobbying for his cause by bringing up the suspension of his chief rival, Shawne "Tainted Supplement" Merriman.
"A performance-enhancing drug is, obviously, what it is," Taylor said. "You enhance your performance by doing that. You fail that test, I think it's not right, it's against the rules and ultimately I think it's sending the wrong message to the youth in America and the people who look at this game not only as entertainment but also to learn lessons from it."
Certainly, Taylor has an interest in voters snubbing Merriman because of his suspension. But, what if some feel that Merriman satisfied his punishment requirements during his suspension and that holding it against him further would be unfair? There is no specification stating that the player of the year can't be someone that was suspended.
"If I wasn't having the kind of season I'm having, this wouldn't even be a conversation," Merriman said. "The NFL will always have the level of integrity. That's what makes the NFL. In my situation, everything happened in an appropriate way. I sat out my four games, my money was taken away from me, my four games were taken away from me, and I came back and played my rear off."
Sounds like Merriman feels he is a viable candidate. And he is correct, if he wasn't having the kind of season he is, of course this wouldn't be a conversation. But, the fact is, the guy is having an amazing season AND tested positive for steroids. There is no getting around this. How can his performance not be questioned? He has stuck by his tainted supplement excuse, but so what? That changes nothing. It proves nothing. The only thing that has been proven is that he had nandrolone in his system.
Regardless of whether or not there is a written rule concerning suspensions for performance enhancers and player of the year awards: The folks that decide these awards have a responsibility to the rest of the players in the league. Yes, Merriman had to oblige by the league's ruling and serve the suspension. That was his punishment. That was the DIRECT result of his failing the drug test. That is what the collective bargaining agreement and league rules agree is the penalty.
Not getting the player of the year award? Well, that is the repercussion. It is not some sort of extra punishment. It is the INDIRECT result of his failing the drug test. And it is something that the folks that decide the player of year owe the players that are not failing drug tests.
The rules don't say that a proven doper can't be the player of the year. But they don't say that voters can't take his documented use of performance enhancers into consideration as well.