There’s a reason why so many of the most famous songs in the history of music basically all boil down to a guy looking around and going “Boy, I screwed that one up, huh?”
Cause we kind of do it a lot.
DMX was slippin’. Beiber’s wondering if it’s too late to say sorry. Purple Rain might be as close as we’ll get to the actual voice of god speaking to us directly. Lit wants to know why my car is in the front yard and I’m sleeping with my clothes on, I came in through the window last night and you’re gone. We could go on. You get the idea.
Which brings us to our next point, although given that outside of the World Cup and the Sox right now there’s absolutely nothing sports-wise for a few weeks, we could keep talking about music for a while: when Julian Edelman’s PED suspension was upheld on Tuesday night, it seems like at least a solid two-thirds of the reactions were to blame everybody except Jules.
“The NFL screwed us over”
“They couldn’t figure out what it was, shouldn’t count as a positive test”
“Anything to take the Patriots down a notch, same as always”
“Goodell is a clown”
“Edelman shouldn’t be punished because the league could screw up a Jack and Coke”
Which all kind of conveniently let us juke around the fact that Jules got caught with something in his system that was close enough to a PED that the NFL wasn’t about to let Edelman skate just because somebody or another may not have put the new covers on their TPS reports.
Per a league source, Edelman never argued in his appeal about taking an “unknown substance.” It was all about paperwork— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) July 4, 2018
Here’s what Pro Football Talk had to say in response to Volin’s tweet, which really nails it whether you believe Volin or his league source or think they’re both...well, we’ve all seen some of the names Volin gets called, right? Let’s leave it at that.
The notion that the substance for which Edelman tested positive was unrecognized created the impression that perhaps it wasn’t a PED. But that’s not how the PED policy works; the league imposes a suspension even if a substance doesn’t fit within the definition of one of the specifically-named compounds, as long it has “a similar chemical structure and similar biological effect(s)” to one of the 70-plus specific anabolic agents.
The fact that Edelman didn’t make the “unrecognized substance” defense part of his appeal confirms that it was all about P.R. and never about science.
Let’s look at Breer’s report again:
I know what Julian Edelman posted on Instagram in the wake of the suspension news (“I don’t know what happened”) came off as a little weird, but there is an explanation for it. I was told Edelman’s result was triggered by a substance that wasn’t immediately recognizable, and there are scientists analyzing it. And as to the timing, the test did happen during the offseason (a couple months ago), which means it’s not for any kind of stimulant. You might remember the rash of players saying they got popped for Adderall — the rules have changed now so that offseason use of stimulants falls under the substances of abuse policy, rather than the PED policy.
Which also reminds me specifically of one of the most bananas interviews I read one time going down the ‘roids/PED rabbit hole that this Grantland column sent me down. After the BALCO scandal blew wide open in the mid-2000s, one of the dealers that got popped was Angel Heridia, who was basically James Franco in Pineapple Express to track stars like Marion Jones. Actually, he was more like Walter White and Franco’s character put together - his whole deal was building custom drugs that’d be untraceable to testers that were always playing catch-up to what he called “designer drugs”. Here’s the money line:
“Athletes with little money use simple steroids and hope they don’t get tested. The stars earn 50,000 dollars a month, not including starting bonuses and shoe sponsorship contracts. The very best invest 100,000 dollars – I’ll then build you a designer drug that can’t be detected.”
That’s what makes feeling like Edelman got screwed basically impossible. As much as we like to joke around about the NFL being so dumb they could mess up a Starbucks order, they found something that was close enough to a PED in Edelman’s tests that they punished him for it. And why wouldn’t they? Even if they can’t say definitively “It’s this flavor of (whatever PED it was)”, the league clearly knew what they had was SOME kind of performance enhancer that’s on that list that PFT referenced earlier.
And for the couple takes I’ve seen like “Well WHAT IF Julian’s trainers gave him something and he didn’t know it had a banned ingredient in it, did you think of THAT, Mr. BRAIN GENIUS??”...come on, man. You really think an NFL-level trainer or nutritionist is gonna be tossing stuff around that’d make a player fail a drug test like you or I throwing almond milk and strawberries in a smoothie?
That leaves Jules holding the bag for this one.
It sucks majorly, but it also is what it is and there’s really nobody to blame here besides Edelman. He gambled, he lost, and in today’s episode of “Athletes: They’re Just Like Us!”, when you gamble and lose, Jules will also be walking away with his wallet significantly lighter.
If Julian Edelman's 4 game PED suspension stands. He is out $987,745. In addition to losing $470,588 of base salary, Edelman won't earn 4 games worth of per game roster bonuses ($125,000) & $392,157 of signing bonus will be recouped. Recoupment is mandatory with drug suspensions.— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) June 7, 2018
Ironically, this may be one of the only examples lately of the NFL actually being consistent about anything. Not like the PED policy has a whole lot of wiggle room, but it’s already been pointed out by plenty of smart people that having a clearly defined rule clearly hasn’t prevented the NFL from faceplanting in other (far more serious) cases.
Like my first boss out of college used to say “Even a broken clock is right twice a day”.
Yes, this sucks. Yes, it’s going to force the Patriots to play left-handed to an extent while they have their typical learning-how-to-drive-a-Ferrari period in September. And it definitely doesn’t help when we’ll all roll up to the bars and tailgates this fall and there’s one more reason everyone who hasn’t won 5 Super Bowls lately can fire off their latest can’t-win-without-cheating sick burn.
Time to take the L and move on.