Sunday, February 4, 2007
Sources: Positive 'roids test to result in Pro Bowl ban
ESPN.com news services
Players who fail the NFL's substance abuse policy next season likely will be banned from playing in the 2008 Pro Bowl.
Sources tell ESPN's Chris Mortensen that commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw have agreed to ban any player who tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs from playing in the Pro Bowl that same season. The policy would take effect beginning with the 2007 regular season.
Upshaw met Monday in Miami with player reps, who supported the ban, union and league sources told Mortensen. One more discussion is planned at the winter scouting combine in late February, with a formal announcement no later than March, Mortensen reported.
A ban also would have financial implications for some players, because some have Pro Bowl bonuses and base-pay escalators tied to the Pro Bowl that would be negatively affected.
The news comes in the week leading up to San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman's appearance for the AFC in Saturday's Pro Bowl in Honolulu. Merriman was named to the AFC roster despite serving a four-game midseason suspension for steroids use.
Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor, the NFL's reigning defensive player of the year, said in December that players who fail drug tests shouldn't be allowed to reap any postseason awards.
"You really shouldn't be able to fail a test like that and play in this league, to begin with," Taylor said then. "To make the Pro Bowl and all the other awards, I think you're walking a fine line of sending the wrong message.
"A performance-enhancing drug is, obviously, what it is," Taylor said. "You enhance your performance by doing that. You fail that test, I think it's not right. It's against the rules and ultimately I think it's sending the wrong message to the youth in America and the people who look at this game not only as entertainment but also to learn lessons from it."
Merriman has denied he's a steroid cheat and blamed his positive test on a tainted supplement.
Merriman, the 2005 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and a Pro
Bowl starter, knows some people will remain skeptical.
"You have to understand that the kind of person I've been and
the kind of person I am, there should be no question in nobody's
mind -- even though there will be -- about my ability on the football
field," Merriman said. "This is God-given talent and that's what
I've been showing since I've gotten on a football field. I think
over time everybody will see that and know that."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.