SPORTS WATCH
Lessons Learned at the Cushing School of Excuses
by Gus Jarvis
Aug 13, 2010 | 1580 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The world of professional athletes and the substances they use to enhance their performance on the playing field never ceases to amaze me. What amazes me more, and what is perhaps even more entertaining, are the excuses athletes use after they are caught with banned substances in their system, and Brian Cushing, linebacker for the Houston Texans, may take the award for best excuse of the year.

Cushing, who won the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year award with 133 tackles last season, has been suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for the first four games this season after he tested positive for the fertility drug HCG last year.

In the several months since the suspension was handed down, Cushing has maintained his innocence saying that he never took the drug. In that same time period, he has had enough opportunity to research this particular drug and found that it shows up in the body if it is injected or if tumors are present.

So here we are in the middle of NFL training camp season and SI.com reports on Monday that the Texans organization is going to ask Goodell to reduce or rescind the suspension because Cushing has a “unique medical condition” stemming from “overtrained athlete syndrome.”

Cushing told SI.com that the syndrome can trigger hormonal spikes after “breaks” in training. “I think that’s the final diagnosis we came up with,” Cushing told SI.com, “and a lot of doctors have supported why this happened.”

In the report, Cushing could not give details about the scientific evidence he was referring to and did not give any more details other than he has a “unique” medical condition that made for a positive drug test.

OK, Cushing doesn’t have to make his case with SI.com or the press (Texans owner Bob McNair will be presenting the case to Goodell), but you would think he would at least name some doctors' names and have better medical terms other than “unique” and “overtrained athlete syndrome.”

Come on, overtrained athlete syndrome? This sounds like an excuse an eighth-grader would come up with. It’s the kind of excuse that denies guiltiness while, at the same time, puts the accused in a good ray of light. Basically it says, “I did test positive but it was because I worked so hard, not because I cheated.” Give me a break, man. This is one of the worst excuses I have heard in a while.

Or is it? Instead of bashing Cushing and co. for presenting an excuse this absurd, maybe I should take a page from his excuse handbook and use it in my personal and professional life. The next time I get blamed by my wife for leaving the toilet seat up, I am going to tell her that I have a “unique” condition (I am male), and that because I care too much about putting the toilet seat down, I actually left it up. Right? It’s a thing called “overcaring husband toilet syndrome.”

The next time I fail to show up at work on time, I will explain to my boss that I have a unique condition (laziness) and that I am constantly late because I am actually early for the next day’s work. It’s a thing called “alwaysearly employee syndrome.” How can I be late if I am really early?

Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis should pay attention to Cushing as well. He could learn a little something about the art of a good excuse. McInnis, who has been accused on some so-serious-it’s-funny plagiarism allegations, didn’t have a good excuse other than blaming someone else.

Using the Cushing model of excuses, McInnis should have said he has a “unique” condition (unintelligent) and that he didn’t plagiarize, he actually over-researched and actually wrote the same thing somebody else did before him. While this excuse may seem asinine, it is no more so than his original excuse.

OK, enough political jabs, back to sports.

The real judge of Cushing’s excuse is going to be Goodell, who already denied an appeal to the suspension last February. I am sure with all the resources Goodell has at his fingertips, he will find out if there really is anything to this overtrained athlete syndrome, and if there is, he better find out all the details of it as well. If Goodell overturns Cushings’s suspension because of this syndrome, every performance-enhanced football player will be lining up full of fertility drugs with the same excuse.

If Cushing did take the fertility drug to enhance his performance as a football player, I do call him an idiot. I don’t blame him, though, for coming up with an excuse that seems so odd and, frankly, dumb. It’s not the four-game suspension that is on the line for him right now. He is in his second year and has plenty of years left to play football. What is on the line is his reputation and legacy as possibly being a great linebacker in the NFL.

With the Defensive Rookie of the Year award under his belt after being drafted in the first-round, he has the makings to be one of the greatest in the NFL if he stays away from injuries and/or trouble. If he doesn’t get the ruling overturned, he will simply be a great NFL linebacker with an asterisks next to his name like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and the like.

The notion of being bundled together with other cheaters because of a positive drug test is certainly reason enough to make excuses no matter how far reaching or absurd they are.
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