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Three Months Later, Could Brian Cushing Really be Innocent?

Just when I thought we were almost past it, the past few days have brought the embarassing Brian Cushing hCG story back to the front pages. With the news that Texans owner Bob McNair would meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell with supposed new evidence to have the Cushing suspension either reduced or overturned completely, your Houston Texans are finally getting that mighty ESPN coverage some so desperately desire. Unfortunately, bad press isn't always better than no press.

So of course when it was brought up yesterday morning that the likely evidence was something called "Overtrained Athlete Syndrome," many fans and media around the league could only give a Texas-sized facepalm, followed by some erratic shaking of the head. I even joked that I thought Goddell would slap another game or two on Cushing's suspension just for wasting his time with something as ridiculous as "OAS."

But Goddell commented late yesterday that he "did meet with Bob at his request" and that he is "trying to get all the facts correct, so we make sure we are making the right decision."

That doesn't sound as absolute as I was expecting. Does this mean that there is even a one in a million chance that the suspension gets overturned? I'd say still not likely, but again it seems to depend on what kind of mood the commish is in these days.

"As you know in the medical profession, there are rarely absolutes and there are varying opinions," Goddell added. "We want to make sure we listen to all the experts and understand all the facts."

More after the jump...

With Cushing claiming that the team now has "the science to back it all up," things could get real interesting if this suspension is actually overturned. In the end, I seriously doubt it will be. But just for the heck of it, let's say it ends up being overturned. While Texans nation would of course be ecstatic, this would likely open a very large can of worms. The league would now have to deal with a scenario where any future player who gets busted for steroids and other performance enhancing drugs would cry out that they were victims of "Overtrained Athlete Syndrome." And I really don't think that is something Goddell wants to happen under his watch. But, like I said, crazier things have certainly happened. Like how Michael Vick is still in the damn league.

Something else that seems to be up for debate now is the possibility that Cushing is actually telling the truth. At first I thought this was just another Roger Clemens scenario where a guy just decides to deny, deny, deny and use poor excuses like how someone "misremembers." And I'm still not completely sold that he is innocent. I mean, Cushing isn't the only "overtrained athlete" in the league, I am quite sure. Why wouldn't more guys have tested positive for this? There have been some credible people who claim that there is no way he ever took anything. With the way it's been documented about how hard he pushes himself and his unique dieting habits, it can be quite easy to believe the kid. With him adamantly saying he never took anything and even convincing Bob McNair to go to bat for him, that could come back to bite you in the ass if you're lying to the guy who signs your checks.

Bottom line is that I can't blame Cushing one bit for this if his body really did produce hCG naturally. Because if it did, what's keeping it from happening again and forcing him to fail another test in the future? And the next suspension would be pretty painful, as I believe it means Cush would be gone for an entire season.

But if we can take the homer glasses off for a minute, ask yourself if you truly believe Cushing's story....

Okay, now pretend he doesn't even play for the Texans and ask yourself again...

Is your answer the same?

I'll be honest that I am more on the fence now than I was back in May, but I still wouldn't call myself a "believer."  As far as the suspension being overturned, I wouldn't get my hopes up. Cushing isn't. He said it himself and I think this quote from him is the best way to approach this situation.

"I've got 12 games I've got to get ready for. Whatever decision is made, I've got to respect the decision of the commissioner. I'm staying open-minded today, but I'm not getting my hopes up."

Nor should we.