Posted: Tuesday April 5, 2005 10:56AM; Updated: Tuesday April 5, 2005 2:23PM
MURRAY WANTS TO TREAT STEROID CHEATS THE WAY THE OLYMPIC WORLD DOES. From Murray Powers of Oakland, Calif.: "Peter, can you think of a reason why, if the NFL and MLB really wanted to get rid of steroids, they wouldn't institute a 'one-and-done' policy? If you are correct that most of the players who are using are playing roulette in regards to testing, knowing that getting caught meant forfeiting their contracts and expulsion from the sport would put an end to this stuff pronto, don't you think?''
I'd love to see it, Murray. I don't think the union in football would agree to it, because the football penalties (suspended for a quarter of the season, without pay) are already stiff. But you're onto something. I'd love to see a zero-tolerance policy.
Peter King will answer your questions each week in Monday Morning Quarterback: Tuesday Edition.
IT'S AMAZING THAT STEROID-TESTING ISN'T FOOLPROOF. From Pat Fogg, of Calgary, Alberta: "Ben Johnson was caught using steroids in 1988. Even with the IOC's stringent testing, few others have been caught until recently. Let's face it: Testing is obviously a very inexact science.''
That's what struck me after an hour on the phone with Adolpho Birch, the NFL's legal counsel on the steroid issue. The league tests for more than 80 substances. And there are surely a few other designer steroids either in the works or on the black market that are not being screened. The NFL probably has the best net of all the sports, but that net still has some holes. Two holes worry me: The league can't test for human growth hormone, and a chemically smart player could figure a way to increase his testosterone enough to cheat while not being caught. That last one is why the league's trying to reduce the testosterone level required for a dirty test.
WHY HAVE THE FALCONS BEEN DORMANT? From Douglas Reed of Savannah, Ga.: "Where have the Falcons been during free agency this year? Other than signing Edgerton Hartwell from the Ravens, they have not done much. Does this mean they think this team has the tools to get the job done or do they have big plans during the draft? P.S.: How are the kids? I miss reading the weekly updates on their games.
Douglas, the strictures of the salary cap mean that teams have to be conservative in years after they've spent lots of money. The Falcons spent big dough on veterans such as Warrick Dunn, Vick and Peerless Price. This year they were able to make one splash with Hartwell, who should upgrade them where they were exposed last year. They need a good run-stuffing 'backer, and Hartwell, a 250-pounder who averaged 110 tackles over the last three years alongside Ray Lewis, should help. Re: the kids, thanks. They're doing well. Laura's fixing to graduate from Tufts this spring, while Mary Beth is finishing a very happy freshman year up at Colgate. I haven't heard one complaint from either about being out of the MMQB spotlight.