With a four game suspension for a violation of the league’s performance enhancing drug policy, Brian Cushing is down, but not (yet) out. The drug, which ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported as slightly elevated levels of hCG, is on the NFL’s banned substance list as a non-steroid PED. The repercussions of Cushing’s positive test are still rolling in. Now the AP has announced it will re-vote the 2009 Defensive Rookie Of the Year award, an award Cushing easily won with 39 of a total 50 media votes.
The runner up in last years DROY was Buffalo Safety Jairus Byrd, who received only 6 votes. (Incidentally, Clay Matthews was in third with 3 votes). Now there is big hype for Byrd to claim the award, as well as some strong support in defense of Cushing. Byrd had 45 tackles and tied the league for 9 interceptions including two from Mark Sanchez, and another two from Matt Schaub when playing Cushing’s Texans. In that same game Cushing led the team with 10 tackles and a sack.
The reason Cushing isn’t out yet is he is still a candidate for the award. Temporarily stripped of the honor, Cushing hasn’t been excluded from the running in the re-vote.
While the PED stigma may prove too much to overcome, there’s a chance the media will show signs of PED fatigue and bestow the crown upon Cushing a second time. Whether or not Cushing is successful in maintaining the DROY honor, it will be personal honor that will questioned going forward; an asterisk in the record books. His performance will always be gauged against last season. If Cushing is less productive next season, the drugs (or lack thereof) will likely be the blame of the media and fans. If Cushing can repeat his incredible ’09 season, the truth of his accomplishments will come into question.
Either way, we will know by this Wednesday, the deadline for submissions on the DROY re-vote.
Will this be the last honor to be stripped from a Trojan this week? Don’t count on it. With the NCAA purportedly to release its findings of the Bush Probe in hours, it is possible USC could say goodbye to a Heisman, some football scholarships, a bowl game appearance, and even a couple of National Championships.
Not a good week for the Trojans.