Barry, Roger, Fiddy
There's plenty of time to get to the Ravens' coaching search. So before we do ... how did this story get past everybody?
The same Albany, N.Y., police investigation that uncovered the Signature Pharmacy performance-enhancing drug scandal that caught Jay Gibbons, Rick Ankeil, Rodney Harrison and other athletes, reportedly has also unveiled involvement by ... big-name musicians and other performers. Including 50 Cent, Wyclef Jean and Mary J. Blige.
It sounds absolutely insane, even ridiculous. The image of a Brian McNamee-type sticking a needle in the rear end of, say, Tyler Perry (who name is also mentioned), is a bit much to digest this early in the morning.
But read enough into the story, reported in the Albany Times-Union Sunday, and you realize that we, as the public, have become conditioned to think that steroids are for athletes only. Well, the sports-loving public has, and we're routinely guilty of being totally clueless about the rest of the world. Apparently, this is common knowledge outside of our little cocoon, the one that still can't think past Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, that still believes baseball is the national pastime and that still believes that there are no "role models'' in our society except famous athletes.
But think about it: way more people, especially young ones, are familiar with 50 Cent and Mary J. Blige than with A-Rod and Derek Jeter. Relate to them more, Get more wrapped up in their lives. Invest more of their time, money and emotion in them. Probably try to mimic their lives, since a lot more people think they can sing than know they can play pro ball. There's a reason "American Idol'' is an institution and "American Baseball Tryout'' isn't.
If some kid thinks that the difference between hitting the big time in music and crashing before anyone ever hears about him is taking hGH, like the rapper he looks up to who came from his same circumstances, then what do you think he'll do? The same thing the young ballplayer trying to stay in this country from the Dominican Republic might do. Heck, apparently the star entertainers use the stuff for much the same reason ballplayers do: to extend their careers, to feel younger, to handle the rigors of the business, to make more money for a longer time. This isn't exactly an idea restricted solely to one group of performers in one sport. As the story reminds us, Sylvester Stallone got busted for trying to get hGH through customs last year.
More than that, there are constantly stories coming out about youngsters who don't play sports (or sing or act) but who use steroids anyway, because it makes them look good and boosts their self-esteem. There's evidence all over the place that baseball and its so-called sacred records are the tiniest, most minute part of the steroid problem.
You'd think this all is something Congress would be aware of, and might consider adding those names to the list of witnesses in the next round of steroid hearings. Which means that seeing a parade of stars from that business, or the company execs and agents and the rest of that crowd, on Capitol Hill might be a lot more interesting and, in the long run, more beneficial, than seeing Bud Selig and Donald Fehr every six months. In fact, you'd figure that Congress might appreciate being hoodwinked by a different crowd every once in a while.
The sheer entertainment value of having 50 Cent speaking to Congress would be worth it. Or, to take it to the Selig-Fehr level, Simon Cowell, or the head of some record label or the CEO of Disney or Time Warner, or Carson Daly or whoever hosts the big MTV shows these days.
As for the fans, do they take the next step and start bringing asterisk signs to concerts? Big banners saying how Run-DMC and Doug E. Fresh did it clean? Do the music writers get on TV and insist that they'll never vote them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Does Mike Wallace grill one of them on 60 Minutes and ask him, "Swear?'' Will we see Mary J. standing on a courthouse steps weeping and admitting that she betrayed her country?
And, last but not least, is George Mitchell ready for another in-depth report?