Writers who vote for The Associated Press NFL awards are going to re-cast their votes for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year following the four-game suspension of Texans LB Brian Cushing, who violated the league’s steroid policy. Cushing will still be eligible for the award, but if the voters thought he should win it, a quick survey might have told them not to take the measures they’re about to take.
I think Buffalo defensive back Jairus Byrd is about to get the award. And while Cushing is now as tainted as the urine tests that showed his guilt were, he’ll have more to worry about than the long-time whispers of his alleged chemical help that have now turned to shouts.
Houston pretty much has to make the playoffs next season, or the staff that drafted and coached him could get bounced. The Texans have been stockpiling talent and making strides under coach Gary Kubiak and it’s time for them to cash the playoff check. By not having this standout player available for any other reason beside injury isn’t good, and if the Texans’ defense gets gashed early on, Cushing is going to catch even more heat. He was that type of impact player.
When he comes back, Cushing needs to be a better player than he ever was, because his team might need him. He also needs to show that he can be a good football player without chemical aid, whatever chemical that may have been. If he can’t, then it’s a setback on a lot of different levels for both Cushing and the Texans. If he does, people will chalk it up to being young and stupid.
The other interesting point about this is the Pandora’s Box that has now been opened by voters for awards, many of whom are close friends of mine and are very smart people. Will do-overs for award voting be held only for players who violate tests for performance enhancers, or could behavior-related arrests or failed drug tests also come into play?