Cunningham suspended four games for performance enhancers

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Cunningham suspended four games for performance enhancers

Jermaine Cunningham, whose rise to relevance this season seemed to squelch concerns he was bound for bust-dom, has been suspended four games for using performance-enhancing substances.

The NFL announced Cunningham's suspension Monday afternoon. The third-year defensive end is eligible to return to the team on December 24 in time for the regular-season finale against Miami.

Cunningham was a second-round pick out of Florida in 2010. As a rookie, he showed promise at outside linebacker and had a key pressure that led to a game-clinching interception against the Colts.

But in 2011, he slid into irrelevance and made just one tackle.

This season, with the Patriots moving even more decidedly to a 4-3 alignment, Cunningham has been a key contributor in pass-rush situations at defensive tackle. He has 2.5 sacks and 15 tackles. Last week, with rookie Chandler Jones injured, Cunningham went to the left defensive end spot on several plays while Rob Ninkovich replaced Jones.

Bill Belichick was effusive in his praise for Cunningham's development in the offseason and training camp. Last week, the Patriots head coach said of Cunningham, "Hes certainly making the most of a lot of opportunities and whatever opportunities hes had, hes earned; they havent been given to him. Hes earned them through his work ethic, performance and production. The harder you work, the more you produce, the more opportunities you get. Thats pro sports. Thats pro football."

The Patriots have now had three players busted by the league for performance enhancers this season -- Cunningham, running back Brandon Bolden and corner Aqib Talib, who tested positive while with the Buccaners.

The NFL does not say which substance was ingested.

Drellich: MLB could explain umpire rulings more often

Drellich: MLB could explain umpire rulings more often

BOSTON — We know that Red Sox manager John Farrell did something wrong. In the absence of any sort of formal announcement otherwise, we’re left to assume the umpires did everything properly — but there’s room for MLB to make that clearer.

If the NBA can put out Last 2 Minute reports, why can’t MLB provide more regular explanations or reviews of contested calls?

Farrell on Tuesday said he’d like to see more public accountability in the umpiring realm, hours before the manager was to sit out Game No. 77. Farrell was suspended one game for making contact with crew chief Bill Miller on Saturday night as manager and umpire rained spittle on each other over a balk call that went against the Sox.

Well, was it a balk or not? Did Miller do anything wrong as well?

“I don’t know if there was anything levied on the other side,” Farrell said. “I don’t know that.”

But would he like such matters to always be public?

“I think there have been strides made in that way,” Farrell said. “I guess I would. I think everyone in uniform would prefer that to be made public. Whether or not that happens, I don’t know, but that would be a choice I would make.”

The league has a thorough internal review system. But it is just that: internal. Most of the time, any way.

On most every night at Fenway Park, there is someone on hand watching just the umpires and reviewing them.

MLB, to its credit, has announced suspensions for umpires in the past. The league has made public acknowledgments when calls have been made incorrectly. More of that seems viable — even if it’s an announcement to reaffirm that the call was made and handled properly, and here are the reasons why.

“I haven’t received any further determination or review of what transpired,” Farrell said. “My position, my stance, remains steadfast. I still firmly believe that time was called [before the balk call was made]. I wasn’t arguing the balk. I was arguing the timing of it. As I reiterated today to those that I spoke with, I still stand by my side of the argument. Unfortunately, there was contact made.”