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Saints coach admits steroid use as player in early 1980s
By wire services
Published March 25, 2005
NEW ORLEANS - Saints coach Jim Haslett says he used steroids when he starred as a linebacker in the early 1980s, and claims the Pittsburgh Steelers' use of the drugs during Super Bowl championship seasons in the 1970s brought steroids into vogue around the NFL.
Haslett said Thursday that when he played in the NFL, steroid use was rampant because the league had no policy banning such drugs. The NFL has since attacked the problem, he said.
"That's because it wasn't illegal then," Haslett said. "That was my point. You had so many people using them because they were legal. I talked about it to show how far our league has come. We have the best policy anywhere on steroids."
Haslett, the Steelers defensive coordinator from 1997-99, made his initial remarks about his own steroid use and his accusations against the Steelers this week in Hawaii, where the league was holding its annual meeting.
Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who ran the team during the 1970s, denied the Steelers pioneered steroid use in the NFL.
Haslett played in Buffalo from 1979 to 1985, and finished his career in 1987 with the New York Jets. He said he used steroids for one season early in his career.
"It started, really, in Pittsburgh. They got an advantage on a lot of football teams. They were so much stronger (in the) '70s, late '70s, early '80s," Haslett said.
"They're the ones who kind of started it."
Rooney rejected Haslett's claims, noting the Steelers were known for smaller, quicker linemen who ran trap plays that required they be agile, not bulky.
"This is totally false when he says it started with the Steelers in the '70s," Rooney told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "(Then-coach) Chuck Noll was totally against it. He looked into it, examined it, talked to people. Haslett, maybe it affected his mind.
"Chuck Noll told the players, "Hey, this stuff doesn't do you any good. If you just do the work, lift, things like that, you'll be all right,' " Rooney said.
At least one Steelers player from that era has admitted using steroids. Steve Courson, a part-time starter on Pittsburgh's last Super Bowl title team in 1979, has blamed a heart condition on steroid use. Courson has also said that teammates such as Jack Ham and Jack Lambert adamantly refused to use them.
Haslett estimated half the league's players, and all its linemen, took steroids in the 1980s before they were banned by the league.
The league began testing for steroids in 1987, but players weren't suspended for using them until 1989. The league started using random, year-round drug testing in 1990.
Haslett starred at Avalon High School near Pittsburgh as a 160-pound quarterback, but played defensive end and weighed about 230 pounds in college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Haslett said he gained that weight by working out, but began using steroids shortly after he was drafted by the Bills in 1979.
Haslett weighed about 250 pounds when he played in the NFL.
Haslett cited the side effects of steroids as the reason he quit.
"I didn't think it was very good for you. I was hyper all the time. Got bloated, a fat face," Haslett said. "I'll tell you one thing about steroids, if you take them you still have to eat right and work your a-- off. If you take them and you don't do anything, that doesn't do anything for you."
CARDINALS: Defensive tackle Ross Kolodziej, a restricted free agent, signed a one-year tender offer.
CHARGERS: Defensive end Jacques Cesaire re-signed. He played in all 16 regular-season games, starting the last 12 and had 24 tackles, a half sack and three pass deflections.
GIANTS: Free-agent fullback Jim Finn agreed to a five-year contract. Finn, 28, carried the ball just three times last season for New York, but his blocking helped Tiki Barber run for a single-season team record 1,518 yards and break the Giants' career mark with 6,927.
PACKERS: Veteran guard Matt O'Dwyer was signed to a one-year deal for the veteran minimum $765,000.