The news that yet another NFL player was both popped and suspended for using banned performance enhancing drugs wasn’t a shock.
After all, 13 players were busted for the stuff last season alone.
And this time, it was one of the league’s best and brightest stars. Arizona Cardinals star receiver DeAndre Hopkins was suspended for six games without pay by the league on Monday.
It should have been big news, headlines for the content-hungry news cycle outlets that need to be fed 24/7.
But it wasn’t.
Few barely raised an eyebrow or made a stink.
For baseball fans, it was a reminder of two things: 1) MLB is held to a higher standard and 2) it matters more than the NFL.
Fans just expect this with the NFL and couldn’t care less who is on the juice. Their pleasure of watching the sport isn’t affected one ounce.
Had this been the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout or the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts, it would have been the end of the world.
The names of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens would have been trending — again!
For hours on end, MLB would have been dragged through the mud. People would go on about how the sport was dirty and would have blamed the commissioner. Worse, some would have called into question all the stats being put up these days. Some fans wouldn’t want to recognize them.
And for the players, it would be a stain on their careers. People would totally discount everything they had accomplished to this point. And worse, their chances of getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame would all but disappear.
That’s how much fans care about MLB compared to the NFL.
Hopkins, of course, acted as if he didn’t know what happened. On social media, he addressed it: “In my 10-year NFL career, I have never tested positive for using performance enhancing drugs,” the statement said.
“To learn that my November test came back with trace elements of a banned substance, I was confused and shocked.
“I am very mindful of what I put into my body and have always taken a holistic approach, so I am working with my team to investigate how this could have happened. But even as careful as I have been, clearly, I wasn’t careful enough. For that I apologize to Cardinals fans, my teammates, and the entire Cardinals organization. I never want to let my team down.
“I fully intend to get to the bottom of this. As soon as I have more information I will share it.”
Above that statement on Twitter read: “See you Week 7.”
After all of that, somehow, Hopkins isn’t appealing the suspension. He’s just gonna accept it.
His actions certainly don’t make him sound like a guy “shocked and confused.”
And with that, it’s over.
Even on the sports TV debate and analysis shows, no one wagged a finger at Hopkins, told him he was a disgrace to the game. They didn’t talk about how this fantastic wideout just tarnished his career forever.
Nope the conversation was what will the Cards do in his absence.
Yep, they moved on and Hopkins did no damage to himself.
Maybe, fans simply expect that most football players are on something to grow that big and strong. After all, football is a tough game.
Maybe it’s just that football doesn’t have the same fabric as MLB, where the numbers in the game mean a lot more. There are few numbers that fans hold dear to in football. Not the same in baseball. For sure, Hank Aaron’s 755 homers meant a lot. That’s why many rejected Bonds’ claim when he broke the record, given all the PED allegations surrounding him.
Football just seems to skate on. Some of their biggest stars were touched by PED use and few seemed to care. There was none bigger than defensive end Lyle Alzado, who was one of the first major U.S. athletes to admit to using anabolic steroids. Alzado said he started juicing in 1969 and never stopped. He died at 43 years old of a brain tumor.
But you didn’t hear his name on Monday.
Maybe, it’s just not the fans, but the reporters who cover the different sports. It seems like NFL reporters/analysts turn their heads and cover for the NFL when it comes to controversies.
But it’s not the same when it comes to the MLB. It feels like the baseball writers are far more critical, honest about what goes on in the game.
For sure, if baseball writers covered Hopkins’ suspension, it wouldn’t have been handled with kid gloves. And yes, it would have moved the needle.