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Rant, Rave

Published November 23, 2003

Baseball's steroid rules carry no weight

Major League Baseball has decided it wants to continue to be regarded as a league filled with players using performance-enhancing drugs.

Last season MLB players were tested for illegal steroids for the first time. About 7 percent tested positive. Since the total was more than 5 percent, testing would become routine and a punishment system was established.

Of course, this works only if the testing and punishment have teeth, but neither even has gums. Among those drugs MLB did not test for are human growth hormone.

The testing will not occur in the offseason, leaving several free months to bulk up on steroids. Players are tested twice a year, an unannounced test and a follow-up five to seven days later. If it comes up clean, steroid use is free to commence without fear of detection until the start of spring training.

If caught, the penalties are tepid.

First offenses are private and "punished" with a treatment program.

A second offense gets a 15-day suspension and small fine.

It takes a fourth offense to risk missing 25 percent of the season. A player could try to get busted and need years to reach a fourth offense.

MLB's drug policy is pathetic and leaves the public no choice but to be suspicious.

Keyshawn overstepped, overrated and overstayed

Keyshawn Johnson accomplished much under Jon Gruden.

For example, he dropped the most passes on the team. He almost never made a tackler miss/broke a tackle/gained yards after the catch. According to ESPN, he has the lowest TDs-per-catch ratio in the NFL in the past three seasons. He also accrued an inordinate number of penalties. He had two last week, and he had a critical false start in overtime against the Panthers in Week 2. (The one where Johnson dropped the potential winning score in the final minute.) He became skilled at making routine catches look hard.

He also complained the most. He let his agent cause a stink about not getting the ball enough. He ranted in Gruden's face on the sideline. He declared his ex-coach the best he ever played for, an overt knock at Gruden. He told Gruden, GM Rich McKay and others he would not play for the Bucs next season. He wrote an embarrassing ego-run-amok diary on during Super Bowl week.

Johnson can take a hit, he's durable and he blocks well. He played superbly in 2001. Otherwise, on the field, the return on the massive investment was awful. Off the field it was worse.

Kudos to Gruden and McKay for exorcising this ego-raging, talent-diminishing problem child.

[Last modified November 23, 2003, 01:46:45]

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