New Orleans Saints should expect the worst from meeting with NFL

Posted by John DeShazier, The Times-Picayune November 18, 2008 4:01PM

Charles Grant is one of the Saints appealing a possible suspension.

Hope for the best today for Deuce McAllister, Will Smith and Charles Grant during their appeals process with the league. But, honestly, expect the worst.

Realistically, it’s a lot better to assume those three – and every other NFL player caught up in the Bumetanide net, having knowingly or unknowingly taken the banned diuretic – soon will be suspended four games by the NFL. It’s a lot safer to envision the Saints without McAllister and Smith (Grant already is out the rest of the season with a triceps injury) for a month or the rest of the regular season, depending on when the penalty actually is assessed, than it is to envision them on the field once the league hears their appeals.
Because it’s just hard to see the NFL changing lanes on its stance regarding banned supplements.

The players very well could have done almost everything right. They could have had the product – all allegedly are guilty of taking StarCaps, a weight-loss pill – tested in the past and they reportedly are spot on in the charge that the banned product isn’t listed among the ingredients in the supplement.

But when league rules stipulate that a player is responsible for whatever it is he takes and will be held accountable if it falls outside the boundaries, it just doesn’t look like a good result will be forthcoming for the I-didn’t-know-it-was-in-there defense. Because the NFL has made it clear that it doesn’t care whether or not the player knew the banned substance was in there.

We all have been educated to the fact that Bumetanide is on the list is because it’s a masking agent.

And while I understand that none of the guilty is a previous offender, all of them say they only wanted to lose weight and all could be victims of the company that produces the pill because the banned substance isn’t listed, there remains the chance, however slim, that the product actually was used to hide the use of a performance-enhancing drug.

Whether or not we want to believe, that very much is possible.

There’s no way to know for certain whether the intent was one thing or the other and if the NFL office is going to go down the slippery slope of taking players’ words regarding intent to cheat, no player ever again is going to be suspended. Every future violator will say he has been duped, like almost every past violator has claimed.

So the safe assumption is that the league probably isn’t going to go there. I’m thinking that no matter how passionate or compelling will be the defense offered by McAllister, Smith and Grant, they all are going to be suspended without pay for four games.

Now, they can appeal the suspensions and continue playing through that appeal and, maybe, finish out the 2008 season. And they can, and will, maintain their innocence all the while.

But more than likely, all they’ll be doing is delaying the inevitable.

There’s a chance they will win their appeals to the league, but the NFL hasn’t shown itself to be lenient in any way regarding banned substance suspensions. This isn’t the same as rescinding a fine for a questionable hit, because the tackle in question can be reviewed, detailed and determined whether it violates the spirit of sportsmanship.

There’s no film to review on this and intent can’t be calculated, either.

This is something where intent can’t be judged, which is why the league doesn’t even bother with trying to judge intent. This is something where the league specifically tells players that they take supplements that aren’t on the league’s approval list at their own risk. And that if they turn up dirty, that’s on the players.

That seems pretty clear, as does what is going to happen to McAllister, Smith and Grant after their appeals are heard today.

Comments are closed.