Friday, February 27, 2009

Brian Cushing still battling steroid speculation

Depending on whom you ask, Brian Cushing can be described in many ways. I find him easiest to define as a tree trunk with vision and speed. He has the look of physical perfection, a product of many hours and years in the gym. But with every muscle defined, and his prowess on the football field, there has also been rumors and speculation that he was assisted in reaching his physical goals.

I first heard the rumor during Cushing’s freshman year at USC. It wasn’t much, and most took it as outsiders trying to damage the kid from New Jersey by linking him to steroid use. It surfaced and created a slight buzz, but without factual support, it failed to grow legs and travel.

In 2006, it was revealed that USC safety Brandon Ting tested positive for steroid use the prior winter. Brandon and his twin brother had already removed themselves from the team, before the announcement came. But fingers pointed again towards a player on the active roster, and again it was Brian Cushing.

Cushing became the topic of steroid conversations, even while testing clean, with other names testing dirty. He was the big fish with the big body, and some weren’t satisfied with the notion that he was a product of hard work alone. And now with his college career behind him, he finds the speculations and rumors are not. Stepping away from the amateur level, he’s greeted by the same questions on the road to the NFL.

At the recent Scout Combine, an NFL GM that refused to be name, spoke of the possible linkage between Cushing and steroid use. "We’ve been warned it is an issue and might have been one since high school”, he said. “We are considering that. As unpleasant as it is, this is an issue with this player that only a negative test here is going to clear up right now. It’s unfortunate, because no one wants to kill the kid, but the issue is a reality."

Cushing continues to insist he has nothing to hide, pointing out that he has tested clean with every test, yet the rumors continue to fly. All players attending the NFL combine are tested for steroid use. It takes at least two weeks for the final results. Cushing remains very confident that he will test negative, finally putting all rumors to rest. But for the next two weeks, his draft stock remains frozen without movement, as potential employers await the result.

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