Friday, January 18, 2008

Could Dana Stubblefield's Guilty Plea Open The Flood Gates?

Earlier today, former NFL player Dana Stubblefield was charged with perjury. This afternoon he plead guilty to those charges which stem from the BALCO steroids case.

Former NFL defensive lineman Dana Stubblefield has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in the BALCO steroids case.

Stubblefield was charged with perjury earlier today, becoming the first football player accused in the case.

Stubblefield, a three-time Pro Bowler who testified before the BALCO grand jury in November 2003, is charged with lying to federal agents about his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs.

The charges unsealed in federal court in San Francisco allege Stubblefield made false statements to an Internal Revenue Service Agent when he allegedly said he had not used steroids linked to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative and denied receiving performance enhancing drugs from BALCO founder Victor Conte.

Up to this point, the NFL has been able to deflect any criticism that's accompanied positive tests for performance enhancing drugs by their players.

Two participants in this weekend's conference championship games, Shawne Merriman and Rodney Harrison, have been suspended in the past because of violations of the league's substance-abuse policy(Merriman-supposed Nandrolene use, Harrison-HGH use). However, those positive tests have been all but forgotten. Other players such as Jarrod Cooper, Ray Edwards, Jim Miller and David Boston have all missed time because of steroid suspensions, but we rarely hear about them. For the most part, the NFL isn't portrayed as having a "steroid problem" on the level as say Major League Baseball.

However, Stubblefield's involvement with the BALCO case, and his acknowledgement that he lied about taking steroids could be the first step in the "outting" of other players. Don't forget that Barry Bonds' involvement with BALCO was sort of a starting point for where Major League Baseball is today in terms of steroid investigation and controversy. While Stubblefield probably isn't as disliked as Bonds was/is, which was a factor in the BALCO investigation, he has now admitted to taking steroids and obtaining them through the same channels as Bonds. And don't forget that Stubblefield was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1993, the Defensive Player of the Year in 1997 and was a three time Pro Bowl selection. So he has some amount of fame attached to his name, like Barry Bonds.

It will be very interesting to see how this admitted guilt by Stubblefield affects the NFL. Up to this point the league has been able to stay out of the spotlight when steroid talk takes place. However, this event could focus that light brightly on it.

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