This whole thing exposes more about us than him. What is all this rabid desire to destroy Armstrong — editorials have even said he was a bad boyfriend. What does that have to do with steroid use?
CNN’s Pierce Morgan said of Armstrong, “A sniveling, lying, cheating little wretch. I hope he now just disappears.” Oh, take it easy. He didn’t kill anyone. He took steroids and lied about it, something football players do every day but no one goes after them.
Even doctors have come forward and said that there is no way football players can be the way they are from just food and exercise, that it is not humanly possible. Football is awash in steroid use, at every level.
If you have been hard on Armstrong, but you watch college and pro football, you need to check yourself; because every college and pro game you watch, you are watching a bunch of “disgraceful” habitual “cheaters.” Most players know that if they do not take steroids, they are going to have trouble competing at a high level. Our love of football and desire for a championship has us excusing it and turning a blind eye to all of it.
If the Vikings won the Super Bowl, and then you heard that players on the team took steroids, how would you process that? Would we approach it the same way we are approaching the Armstrong saga? Would we give back the championship?
The testing for steroids means little. Armstrong was tested many times and nothing showed up. Athletes know how to beat the system. Armstrong was tested 300 times; none of the tests were positive. In defending football players, fans will say that they are testing clean. Well, so did Armstrong — 300 times!
For the past 40 years, we have all kept our heads in the sand when it comes to football and steroids. Oprah needs to put football players on the hot seat…“So, your 350-pound body that bench presses 450 lbs. — Mom’s home cooking?” At least Armstrong looks like a normal human being.
We are football lovin’ hypocrites. Football is number one in America; cycling is not even close. Going after football players for using steroids is off limits because football is a religion and the players are gods. We don’t even want to thinking about anything negative or bad that would spoil our love affair with football.
Armstrong’s mistake is not that he took steroids; his mistake was he was in the global cycling community and not the American football community. If he was a college or pro football player, his steroid use would have gone unchallenged.
Explain this to me: How can the most obvious steroid sport — football — not even be on the radar when it comes to enforcement and accountability, yet we go after cyclists or ping pong players who take steroids. I think it is because football, at the level of play it is now at, could not exist without steroids and currently the game is sacred.
Frank Erickson lives in Minneapolis.