Cushing should be judged moving forward

What do you think of Texans’ linebacker Brian Cushing now? Did your opinion change on the 2009 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year? Probably, right?

Well, it should, and because of the report yesterday that the Houston linebacker will be suspended for the first four games of the 2010 regular season due to a failed drug test for performance enhancers, his career will forever be judged and examined with a microscope.

And, now we all want to see what type of player he really is on Sundays in the NFL.

From a former player’s perspective, this is the original sin of the NFL. Steroids, performance enhancers, or whatever story that is drummed up from Cushing’s side doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that the former USC star will be viewed as a player who cheated the game. And, quite possibly, cheated other players out of the Rookie of the Year award.

I’m not worried about the Texans’ defense, because that coaching staff will treat this like an injury. The next person in line will play, and Houston will prepare for their first four games of Indy, Washington, Dallas and Oakland just as they would if Cushing were suiting up on Sundays.

That locker room in Houston will move on without him—as they should.

However, when he does come back, we should all want to see him play. Does he have the same impact as a linebacker? Is he as strong as he was in ’09 at the point of attack? Can he stay healthy? There will be plenty of questions that come with his game in 2010—and beyond—because we want to see how Cushing can play and produce when he isn’t, well, on a banned substance.

That’s natural to want to see that, and it is also natural for us to judge the 2010 season and the remainder of his career on this one incident.

Don’t cheat the game. It only makes us want to see what you really have as a player.

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