Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Two Sides of the Same Coin

If I were to tell you a sports athlete spent thousands of dollars taking substances that might be illegal, would you consider it cheating?

Forget the fact that the drugs might not be banned yet. Forget the fact that other players could have easily done the same thing. If sports are theoretically supposed to be played on a level ground (talentwise at least), don't you consider what Bill Romanowski did for more than ten years cheating?

And yet John Clayon (one of ESPN's more respectable football analysts) applauds Romo's work ethic, saying "his life story will detail the crisis every NFL player goes through every day. No 245 pound body is prepared for the collisions a linebacker absorbss 60 to 70 times a game. The difference with Romanowski was his willingness to try new things to keep his body in play."

I think that if an ESPN baseball analyst, say, Jerry Crasnick, wrote "Barry Bonds is a fierce competitor who should be applauded for his willingness to try new things," Crasnick would be looking for a new job. Yet there's no problem (none that I've found at least) when Clayton writes this about Romanowski.

It's silly when people argue that there must be fewer steroid abusers in the NFL than in the MLB, just because of the NFL's more stringent testing policy.

But the bottom line is, if you're willing to pay for the drugs that the NFL are unaware of and don't screen for, you can get them.

This article on Romanowski is really laughable though. He was "willing to try new things."

Yeah, new things, like the latest "health supplement" from his BALCO buddies. New things, like numerous, potentially hazardous cheap shots on the field.

Everyone knows that Bill Romanowski was a fierce competitor. No one who's watched him play can deny that. But it's also impossible to deny that once in a while, sometimes more than once in a while, his drive to compete led him to rather questionable actions. Cheap shots, fights, unsportsmanlike conduct . . .

Let's use his on-field action as a metaphor for his training regimen off the field, shall we?

On Field: Blindsides a quaterback, lays him out on the turf. - A good, hard play and legal

Training: Buys a hyperbaric chamber - It's a little extreme, but no problems there

On Field: Grabs a guy's groin while at the bottom of a scrum, and then spits in his face - Not legal - unsportsmanlike conduct and gets fined $7500

Hits Kerry Collins with a cheap shot during an exhibition in 1997 and breaks his jaw - Not legal - and it was a damn exhibition

Training: Takes "supplements" provided to him by trainers from BALCO - Not legal - while not specifically against drug policy, these "vitamins" he was taking were probably banned eventually by the NFL- he just went off them in time. But they were illegally obtained in the first place.

On (Practice) Field: Broke his own teammate's eye socket in a fight, ruining the man's career - Good lord, he should have gone to jail for this. Jail. This was plain out assault for God's sake.

Levels Jerry Rice during a non-contact drill - Roid Rage?

Training: Who knows what he's taken? Consider that he told reporters that he took steroids for nearly his entire career. He tested positive for THG. Steroids could mean supplements, it could mean HGH. Who knows?

Needless to say, I think Romo was always over the line. But his supporters applauded his actions as those of a warrior, a gladiator who sometimes got a little carried away by his emotions. Can they really defend his steroid use?

John Clayton can write what he wants about Romo's training regimen. He can marvel at the man's drive. He can fellate Romo's career and Romo's passion all he wants.

But it's evident to me that Romanowski was always a punk and a cheater. I don't care how well he played. He played the game wrong, on and off the field, and no one should value his accomplishments for that reason. Another article on Romo tells the real story. And I can't think of a better way to end this piece than by copying it.

"It's clear that Romanowski is going to capitalize financially from his bad-boy NFL career.

He's written his autobiography: "Romo: My Jekyll and Hyde Life." In the upcoming remake of "The Longest Yard," Romanowski has a role as a prison guard. Odds are good that he'll land a high-paying job with some television network as an NFL analyst.

Then there's Williams [the teammate who Romo punched, whose career was ruined - he sued and has since settled out of court for 415,000 dollars, my addendum]. No, he wasn't headed for a Hall of Fame career. He was a backup and a special teams player. But the Berkeley High School graduate had played one season with the Raiders -- his dream job -- and had a chance for more seasons in a league that now pays a minimum annual salary of $455,000.

Williams deserves our sympathy and a huge check from Romanowski, who should pay for this mistake."


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