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Unnamed G.M., former teammate unload on Brian Cushing

The news that Texans linebacker Brian Cushing tested positive for a banned hormone used by some athletes after steroids in order to increase testosterone levels has confirmed for many NFL observers suspicions regarding Cushing’s possible use of steroids before joining the ranks of professional football.

How strong were the suspicions? An unnamed G.M. has shared a damning observation with Thomas George of AOL’s

“We did our research on him before the draft last year and we concluded he was a chronic steroid user dating back to high school,” the unnamed G.M. said. “More than a few people were surprised when he passed the steroid tests at the combine. I think the guy became a pro at masking it, until he was caught. I definitely would have taken my vote back on that [defensive rookie of the year] award if I had one.”

There’s more. A former USC teammate offered up an indictment of Cushing’s offseason training methods in comments made to’s Ross Tucker: “I don’t know for sure that he takes anything,” the player said, “but every time he goes back to New Jersey for a while over the summer and then comes back to Los Angeles he looks like a different person. It is unreal.”

Even more unreal is that so many people are buying the excuses and the spin being offered up on Cushing’s behalf. We realize that plenty of guys cheat. But the only way to end cheating is to impose serious consequences when a cheater is caught. Faced with the prospect of entering the 2009 season with a bad knee, we’re inclined to think that Cushing consciously accepted the risk of getting caught and missing four games in the future if it meant maintaining the ability to start his NFL career at 100 percent. So maybe the NFL needs stiffer penalties for banned substances -- and maybe Congress should get involved if the NFL won’t take care of the situation on its own.

And for those of you who think we’re standing on a soapbox and waving this flag for the fun of it, think again. I’ve got a 13-year-old who loves football and who is growing like a genetically-altered weed and who needs bright lines about what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to what he puts into his body. From the current stewards of the game, he’s instead getting mixed signals.