Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Pharm team is much mightier than the Detroit Lions

Connect the dots.

The NFL suspends the Williams Wall -- throwing a wrench into the Minnesota Vikings' season -- for the balance of the regular season for taking a banned substance. It came on the very day the U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued a recall for the very product, StarCaps, whose labelling didn't say that it contained the banned substance that Kevin and Pat Williams ingested, along with several other NFL players. The NFL reportedly failed to warn the players that the drug contained bumetanide.

Out of all that, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gets to act as judge, jury and executioner, with legal retalation to ensue ... oh, and you better believe it will ensue (or not). Somehow, some way, an Atlanta Falcons player, Grady Jackson -- same agent, same lawyer, but on a team which is a redemption story for being in position to make the playoffs while Michael Vick is in jail? -- does not get suspended.

The real kicker is that just hints at how huge Big Pharma has become in the United States. Perhaps this should have covered off here instead of just joking, as we did on Offsides, Kingston's most listened to hour-long sports show (Friday, 4 p.m. ET, cfrc.ca) that the entire Vikings D-line would be suspended by the time they play the winless Detroit Lions on Dec. 7. (The stance has been that ignoring the Vikings, not posting on them, might actually create the right karmic conditions for them to be leading the NFC North. It's also much more fun to actually post on sports than on the pharmaceutical-industrial complex.)

Please understand that this is cognitive dissonance writ large. The NFL is in bed with Big Pharma. The league's business partners include companies such as Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline, which is fine. They're each in business to make money and they all do some good work (and speaking as a Vikings fan, anti-depressants have come in handy in November and December).

The company that makes StarCaps, Balanced Health Products, doesn't seem like a big company. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration, which has been known to be pretty cavalier about citizens' health, is in pretty tight with those big multinationals.

Everyone knows the horror stories about NFL players popping pills and what-not to be able to get from one Sunday to the next. Teams would need 200-man rosters if not for anti-inflammatories. San Diego's Shawne Merriman was defensive player of the year during a season that began with him sitting out a steroid suspension. Two Minnesota Vikings and four other players take a poorly vetted diet supplement and it's a capital crime, because it can mask steroid use.

Incense covers up the smell of marijuana, but they don't arrest people for buying incense.

The NFL cannot stand there with any authority when it takes money from Big Pharma, not to mention restaurant chains that pass off grease and preservatives as food. So, please, spare the sermons about how the Williamses should have known what they were talking. Woman, please. Very few people in the general population really know what they're drinking or eating.

The Vikings just happened to have the two men in the middle who got caught this time. This is a reflection on a NFL that's drunk with power and an industry that's out of control. Connect the dots, and who's to say who's guilty?

(The Vikings might not fight this, but a lot of people would like to see them try.)


Dennis Prouse said...

Do either of those two guys look like they were on a diet to you? That stuff was masking steroid use. You know it, and I know it.

sager said...

I'm gonna play dumb and say it's not about who's cheating and who isn't .... it's about the gray areas and the fact the NFL has some holes in their banned substances that you could drive a semi through.

It sucks, period, but if this was baseball and one team was losing two starters in the heat of a playoff race another team wasn't, there would be hell to pay.

Famuan said...

"Somehow, some way, an Atlanta Falcons player, Grady Jackson -- same agent, same lawyer, but on a team which is a redemption story for being in position to make the playoffs while Michael Vick is in jail? -- does not get suspended."

You noticed that too?