A little more than three years ago, Thomas Davis was given the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. The Carolina Panthers linebacker is an inspirational story, someone who overcame multiple ACL tears to become one of the best linebackers in football.
Now he’s asking for the benefit of the doubt.
Davis took the unusual step of announcing he has been suspended four games for failing the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. In a video he posted on social media, Thomas said it was not for steroids or HGH, but for an estrogen blocker. Those type of supplements are easily available over the counter. Whatever Davis took is also banned by the NFL, though he said he has taken the same supplements for seven or eight years without a problem.
But he said his “conscience is clear,” and asked fans to believe him when he said he didn’t knowingly take a banned substance.
“In no way would I ever do anything, like I said, to cheat this game or to try to create a competitive advantage over anybody,” Davis said in the video, which the Panthers retweeted. “I’ve always tried to do things the right way.
“Just know, in no way – in no way – have I done anything intentionally to try to cheat this game.”
Davis also ended the video, strangely, by teasing that it might not be his last NFL season. Davis, who is 35, said earlier this year that 2018 would be his last season. It’s understandable if he doesn’t want to go out on a sour note after a great career.
Part of the problem with the NFL’s PED policy is specifics are never released. We never hear from the league exactly what a player tested positive for, although the PED policy includes a lot of different substances. That privacy probably helps players in most cases, but in others there is ambiguity where there shouldn’t be any. If Davis failed a test due to an over-the-counter supplement he has regularly taken, it would be in his best interest if the NFL could say so.
People will decide themselves whether to believe Davis or not. And unlike Major League Baseball, where players are ostracized for PED use (then all is forgotten if they apologize in a way acceptable to the guardians of the game), suspensions for failed drug tests are quickly forgotten in NFL circles for whatever reason. Still, Davis wanted to set the record straight, before news of his suspension even broke.
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