On the short-lived Derrick RosePED saga


On the short-lived Derrick RosePED saga

By: Rich Levine

The Derrick Rose story died down pretty quickly. In fact, if you were off-the-grid for whatever reason on Sunday, theres a good chance you missed the Rose saga all together. So heres a quick recap:

Basically, earlier this season, the Bulls point guard was asked a question about performance enhancing drugs in the NBA.

The question (by a reporter from ESPN the Magazine) was: "If 1 equals 'What are PEDs'? and 10 equals 'Everybody's Juicing' How big of an issue is illegal enhancing in your sport?"

To that, Roses quoted as saying: "Seven. It's huge, and I think we need a level playing field, where nobody has that advantage over the next person."

You can see why this would be a big deal

Anyway, the quote finally hit the mainstream on Sunday, and it picked up some media momentum. Pressed for a response, Rose released a statement that afternoon denying the story. He didnt recall being asked or answering the question. And in the event that he actually said those words, it was just a misunderstanding. He just didnt get the question.

He added: "But, let me be clear, I do not believe there is a performance enhancing drug problem in the NBA."

At the same time, there were numerous others defending Rose. A Bulls spokesman told CBS Sports that Rose would never say anything like that. Another source suggested Rose thought he was being asked how important it was for sports, in general, to be PED-free. That same CBS story cites a person close to Rose saying that he believed he was being asked,"How big of a problem would it be if steroid use were rampant in the NBA?

And that was sort of that. With the MVPs denial, and other reports (however contradictory they may have been), the Derrick Rose portion of this story essentially came to an end.

What else was there? Maybe theres an audio file of his answer, but even then theres no way to prove whether or not Rose understood the question. Its a lost cause. Why not just give Rose the benefit of the doubt and move on?

And thats pretty much what happened. Panic's been replaced by mild speculation, and the story's begun to fade. In the post game press conference on Sunday, PEDs didnt come up once.

One thing that helped: ESPN.com barely touched the story. It never made their home page, or was featured prominently on their NBA page. You know why they did it, but they did. ESPN may have started this with their magazine, but they were never going to perpetuate it. Instead, they buried it. And now, its essentially buried.

Still, theres one thing about this story that Ill always remember.

My reaction.

When I heard that Derrick Rose thought the NBA had a PED problem, my first instinct wasnt, No way! That cant be true! It was far more grim. Far more accepting. Basically, I believed it.

Was I disappointed? Sure, but nothing like that surprises me anymore. And yes, I know that the NBA tests four times a year, but its a player friendly system. Are we really that nave to think that athletes won't do something against the rules if it helps them win?

At some point over the last five years, every NBA fan has had the PED thought cross their mind at least once. Just a simple, You know, I wonder or something more than that. Theres the fact that some of these guys are now are bigger and stronger than just about any human being weve ever seen. There's the fact that Rashard Lewis got busted on PEDs two years ago and then saw his career fall off a cliff.

PEDs exist in this game. We know that. I dont think theres ever been a question that they're "around." But with the NBA, we just didnt know how bad or who, or for how long.

And we still dont.

With Roses retraction in the tank and back out of the publics eye, the PED issue will probably die back down again in the next few days. And maybe thats how it should be. Considering all the garbage thats going on in the NFL, and will go on in the NBA, its crazy to waste time talking about an issue like that while the Playoffs are in full swing, the drafts on the horizon. So for now, we're free to sit back and forget the whole thing ever happened. And hopefully it will stay that way.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Patriots may get help from Foster . . . but not the one you think


Patriots may get help from Foster . . . but not the one you think

As Patriots fans across New England worked themselves into a fine lather at the sight of Arian Foster in Boston over the weekend, another running back of the same last name prepared himself for his first-ever week of OTAs. 

D.J. Foster may not have the resume that Arian Foster has racked up over the course of his seven-year career, but the undrafted rookie running back's skill set is intriguing nonetheless. And he's healthy, whereas the former Texans Pro Bowler is coming off of a season-ending Achilles ailment and hasn't played a full season since 2012. 

Foster could be considered one of the players on the Patriots roster who stands the most to gain from this phase of the team's offseason program. Not only will he be taught to put into practice that which he's learned during his brief time in Foxboro this far, but there could be valuable reps available to him as Dion Lewis works his way back from a season-ending ACL injury suffered last fall. 

Foster, who played receiver during his final collegiate season at Arizona State, may slot in behind veteran sub backs James White and Donald Brown, but he'll still have an opportunity to show what he can do this spring. This is considered a "teaching camp" by the Patriots, not a "competition camp," meaning the lines between first, second and third string are a bit more blurry than they might be during training camp. Everyone gets a shake. 

At 5-foot-10 and 193 pounds Foster may be considered slight to run between the tackles, but his quickness could help him make defenders miss in the hole. He ran a 6.75-second three-cone drill at this year's combine, which was fourth among wideouts. Had he been considered a back, he would've topped the list at that position for that drill. 

Foster worked primarily with running backs coach Ivan Fears when he first arrived at Gillette Stadium, making it sound as though he'll be in the mix as one of the team's pass-catching backs. But knowing the Patriots, they'll be open to splitting him out wide as well. 

Wherever he's used, Foster will have his work cut out for him as he learns the offense and tries to develop an on-the-field rapport with his quarterbacks. Slow going as his development may be, his ceiling is exciting. 

One thing's for certain: At this point, he's of more use to the club than a veteran back coming off of a major injury who isn't quite ready to pass a physical. 

Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end


Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

Monday may have marked a low point in the relationship between the NFL and its on-field employees.

The fight between the league and its best player of the past two decades was in the headlines again. Tom Brady, tied to the NFL’s bumper and dragged around for almost 500 days, had his NFLPA legal team baring its teeth again in the Deflategate mess. The eye-gouging and hair-pulling in that imbroglio over a puff of air allegedly being removed from footballs has cost the league and the PA about $25M so far.

Meanwhile, NFLPA President Eric Winston was saying the league "cannot be trusted to do the right thing when it involves players.” That comment flowed from a Congressional report alleging the NFL tried to exert influence over who would conduct studies regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the condition that’s been blamed for a myriad of former players winding up addled, incapacitated or dead.

I say “may have marked” because the relationship between the two sides has cratered so frequently over the past two years, it’s hard to know exactly what the low point has been. Or how much lower it can go.

And, with the 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement only half done, there is ample opportunity for things to get worse. Because, really, why would they get better?

With the NFL’s owners safe knowing that their emperor/puppet/human shield is still in place to take the hits and do their dirty work, there’s seemingly no groundswell among that group to relieve Roger Goodell of his duties. Despite reports of growing owner discontent over Deflategate, the Ray Rice investigation, and an appeal of a case in which the league was found to have withheld $100M from players, there is no Sword of Damocles dangling over the league to cut ties with Goodell.

He was able to oversee the league’s re-entry in Los Angeles (though that “triumph” was fraught with owner acrimony), is going to get a game played in China, keeps edging closer to getting a franchise based in Europe and may even land one in Las Vegas, has enhanced the league’s reach on social media (the announcement of some games being aired on Twitter) and keeps making billions hand over fist.

Goodell’s presence won’t be an impediment to a new labor deal getting done for another five years. By then, when the issues of Goodell’s role in player discipline, drug testing and his relationship with the union come to the fore, the owners might feel compelled to cut him loose after 15 seasons in charge.

But even then, the league’s owners will be in the business of pointing out to the players how good they’ve had it under the current CBA. The league’s salary cap structure – decried as a disaster in the first years of the deal – has seen the cap grow from $120M in 2011 to $155M this year. Players’ practice time and the wear and tear on their bodies has been reduced thanks to the new limits on contact enacted. Benefits are better. Retired players are getting better care. Players have more off-field marketing opportunities with companies that want to affix themselves to the most popular sport in the United States.

As bad as the headlines have been for Goodell, in five years (or probably fewer since negotiations on a new CBA will begin in 2020) who will remember the disaster that’s been Deflategate? How inspired will players be to miss games and paychecks for the satisfaction of knowing Goodell can’t be his own arbitrator anymore?

To sum it up, Goodell’s dark disciplinary reign may well continue unabated for a few more seasons. But as long as the league rains money on its players through the end of this decade, the clock isn’t ticking on Goodell and the owners in the form of labor strife.