In baseball, players who violate the league’s PED policy serve a regular-season suspension, and they are barred from participating in the postseason. The NFL doesn’t do that.
Maybe the NFL should handle it the same way that baseball does. Perhaps fans and media don’t seem to care all that much about PED violations because the NFL doesn’t care about PED violations as much as it should, allowing someone like Patriots receiver Julian Edelman to miss the first four games of the year, return for the balance of the regular season, participate in the playoffs, and ultimately be named the MVP of the Super Bowl.
Edelman won a prize that could have (perhaps should have) gone to someone who didn’t take a substance that falls on the list of banned substances, as determined by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. Sure, Edelman may have done it to help recover from a torn ACL suffered in 2017. But that doesn’t matter. A banned substance is a banned substance. Edelman, who has managed to say not much of anything about what he took, why he took it, whether he knew what he was taking, and/or whether he knew that he was violating the PED policy, violated the PED policy — and it’s entirely possible that he assumed the risk getting caught (missing four games if he did) in order to ensure that he would still be able to perform at an acceptable level (possibly missing all 16 games if he didn’t).
Until the league and the union agree to greater punishment for PED violations, plenty of players will engage in what amounts to a game of chance, risking the ability to play some games in order to ensure the ability to play in the rest of them — and possibly to end the season clutching the Lombardi Trophy in one hand and the Pete Rozelle Trophy in the other.