But in the end the long-suffering Patriots finally reached the Super Bowl, only to lose the game and be further embarrassed by the drug revelations. A parade in the Pats' honor had been scheduled for this week but the club canceled it, insisting, unconvincingly, that the drug situation had nothing to do with it.
"Everything we did for this organization this year is shot," said Fryar. "This is our one time to the Super Bowl, and now we're right back down in the basement. We might never get out."
It was ironic that all this was happening at a time when athletes in other pro sports have begun to accept the need to implement more effective drug programs. Late last year, for example, the world's leading men's tennis players voted to accept testing for cocaine, amphetamines and heroin starting this year. And just last week the Baltimore Orioles announced major league baseball's first teamwide testing program, which won the endorsement of commissioner Peter Ueberroth and guarded acceptance by Major League Players Association director Donald Fehr. Baltimore's plan sprouted from the players' side: It was drawn up by Ron Shapiro, agent for 16 Orioles, and calls for three to six mandatory random urinalyses, with results to be held in confidence, and if drug usage is detected, treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Player rep Scott McGregor spoke with teammates on behalf of the plan and said he was "trying to do what is in my heart. Baseball has been tarnished and stained and it grieves my heart to see it go on any longer."
If last week's events are any lesson, the NFL players themselves also may have to take on the burden of ridding their sport of drugs. Pro football's leadership would rather think about the TV ratings.