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One day last week, Long, a 32-year-old guard with the Pittsburgh Steelers, twice tried to commit suicide, first by carbon monoxide poisoning and then by swallowing rat poison. The attempts came a day after Long told his teammates that he had tested positive for anabolic steroids which build muscle mass and are prohibited by the NFL
As a first-time offender, his penalty would have been a two-week ban from training camp and a four-game suspension at the start of the season, provided he tested clean upon his return. The penalty might have seemed especially costly to Long, who was in danger of losing his starting right guard position to the younger Carlton Haselrig.
On the day of his suicide attempts, Long's girlfriend had called former Steeler and admitted steroid user Steve Courson for advice on how Long might appeal or beat the test results. Courson, who suffers from heart disease caused, he claims, by steroid and alcohol abuse, says, "Terry apparently was making a cry for help. We should be thinking more about Terry Long the person than Terry Long the football player."
Long's sad story again demonstrates the irrational nature of the steroid abuser. Even had he lost his job to Haselrig, there was still a place for him in the NFL. Joe Greene, the Hall of Fame defensive tackle who is now a defensive line coach for the Steelers, says, "I thought Terry could be one of the better guards in the league. I told him that. He was tough, he was competitive."
But with the volumes of information now available about the dangers of steroids, including the violent mood swings they can cause, Long had no excuses for using the drugs. Says Greene, "When Lyle Alzado was using steroids 20 years ago, like he says, there was no information about the dangers and side effects. But people who do it now, it's not tragic. It's dumb."
In the middle of two court battles over a billion-dollar market, lawyers in Chicago and Boston can't resist trying on a critical piece of evidence. It is a new baseball glove by Spalding that features a tiny air pump that molds the mitt to the wearer's hand. Middle-aged attorneys have been grabbing for the black, silver-trimmed glove almost every chance they get. "My hand feels bigger and stronger," said one portly lawyer after pumping leather. "I'd catch anything with this."
Such a reaction is exactly what Spalding hopes for. On the other hand, Reebok, whose pump shoe has been a phenomenal success, was furious when Spalding introduced the inflatable airFLEX mitt at a trade show in Chicago two weeks ago. Within hours, Reebok filed a lawsuit in the circuit court of Cook County, Ill., claiming Spalding had stolen the mechanism of The Pump, which has inflated Reebok's shoe sales to almost $1 billion.
A few days later, Reebok filed a lawsuit in Boston, charging Design Continuum, a firm that assisted Reebok in the development of its pump shoes, with breach of contract for helping Spalding learn the secrets of The Pump. Both hearings are to begin this week.
There is plenty at stake, especially with the new glove retailing at $120. In 18 months Reebok's pump-shoe operation has grown to the point where, if it stood alone, it would be the fourth-largest athletic shoe company in the world. Reebok now has 88 models of pump shoes on the market and has contracted with CCM to make inflatable-fit hockey skates. Reebok had also been in the middle of talks with Rawlings for a jointly produced inflatable baseball glove. Says Bernadette Mansur, a Reebok vice-president, "We will work with reputable companies that want to use our technology. But if they sneak in the back door, we'll see them in court."