Shutdown Corner - NFL

How do I end up in a bathroom stall at the Borgata with my pants around my ankles while a man named Bill stares at my penis?

Earlier that morning, I'd made over 10 phone calls to three different people arranging the final details of my afternoon meeting. After meeting up with Bill, we wasted no time as we casually strolled through the men's room doors. The two of us snuck quickly past the corridor of urinals toward the last stall -- our best bet for going unnoticed. Luckily it was unoccupied, and we moved right in.

Not many words were said in the stall. Both of us were completely comfortable with the procedure. Bill took out the package, but I was the one who had to break the seal. I ripped open the plastic container, revealing a short plastic cup to capture my random urine sample.

I had known Bill was going to show up around four in the afternoon, so I was well prepared. After drinking five or six cranberry juices I couldn't wait to go, but I figured that was a good thing. I couldn't risk having stage fright in that type of situation. I mean, what would I have done? Chat it up with Bill over a couple of beers while he stared at my junk?

I had thought mine was an original story, but I was mistaken. It didn't take many interviews before finding out that most players on my team had some kind of crazy urination story. Rock Cartwright was thrown into the same situation as me: "I was standing in the middle of the bathroom in the New York, New York casino in Las Vegas, and the dude says, ‘Just do it in front of the urinal.' Forget the stall, I was standing ass out in front of a urinal with some guy peeping around my shoulder."

Clinton Portis (pictured) was called for a test in the middle of a party at his mother's house. It shouldn't have been a big deal to head up to the bathroom and take care of business. But the problem was that the side door to the bathroom connected to his mother's bedroom. It must have been so embarrassing for him to have his mom walk into the bathroom with his pants down and package in-hand while another man stares intently.

The procedure for the NFL steroid testing is very exact. Obviously it doesn't discriminate where the test occurs, but more importantly the steps taken to collect the sample. When a player is drawn for a random drug test it must happen within 24 hours. It doesn't matter where that player is, the NFL will have someone track him down. If a player cannot give a sample of urine, it is counted as an automatic fail. Thus the uncomfortable situations.

To begin a test a player must show some form of government issued identification. The ID is never taken for granted by the test giver. It doesn't matter how recognizable the player is, they must produce valid identification. In other words, Peyton Manning is going to have to take out his license before he is granted permission to spill some urine.

After being identified, the player is given a lineup of identical urine cups. All of the cups are factory sealed in plastic, but it feels like an important choice in life when making the cup selection. "Let's see, what's inside cup number three, Bob? Oh look, we got a winner." After the cups the player gets to continue his selection process with the official anabolic steroid testing paperwork. It's surprising why the cup and paperwork aren't just handed to you.

Once the selection process ends the player must wash his hands before the real fun begins. Who knows what someone could put all over his fingers to tamper with the results? The test taker then takes his shirt off and moves into the bathroom stall. At this point the pants must go down below the knees. In my case they usually fall closer to the ankles. I feel like a four year-old kid standing bare-assed in front of the stall while my dad coaches me on, making sure I don't piss all over myself.

Normally I feel embarrassed, but then I put myself in the position of the tester. If someone asks him what he does for a living, his only honest job description could be "urine collector." The tester, in my case Bill, has seen an uncanny amount of penises. He must stare closely at all of them, making sure there are no Whizzinators filling that special little cup. To think, Brett Favre's penis could be the topic of discussion at his dinner table that night, and Bill knows all the details.

To the credit of the NFL and all the drug testers, every test I've ever done has been conducted very professionally, and I know most players feel the same way. I'm thankful that such great lengths are taken to collect urine samples from players at anytime, because it's ridiculous that players try to sneak in a cycle of steroids in our few months off. With the way the NFL tests for drugs, they make cheating very difficult for players to do.

Sometimes the tests just have to occur in uncomfortable situations, which, as I've hopefully conveyed in this story, can become quite the tale to tell.

Chris Cooley is a Pro Bowl tight end for the Washington Redskins and blogs every Wednesday here on Shutdown Corner. Read more from Cooley on his personal blog, where he gets awesome all the time.

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