Ross Tucker
Friday May 29th, 2009

Is it really that hard to compromise? You know, we made some mistakes, you made some mistakes, let's meet in the middle and move on. It really shouldn't be but evidently it is as both the NFL and Minnesota's Pat and Kevin Williams seem to be firmly entrenched in their positions as it relates to the still unfolding StarCaps case.

On one side, there is the league, which should have done a better job making players aware that Starcaps was tainted and contained bumetanide, a banned substance. As a result of their moral error, if not a legal one, the league should be willing to reduce the suspensions for all Starcaps players to two games. I am fully aware of the zero-tolerance policy, and wholeheartedly in favor of it, but it would seem to me that Roger Goodell, who has earned a positive reputation for his ability to look at every situation involving punishment on a case-by-case basis, should make a decision that would placate both sides and allow each to declare victory and save face.

But it is not just the league office that appears to be relenting from any type of compromise situation. Peter Ginsberg, the attorney for the Williamses, told me on Sirius NFL Radio recently "they are not interested in any type of compromise" and sounded extremely confident they would prevail in state court. Pat Williams admittedly just wants to put the process behind him, but he remains steadfast in his desire to "clear his name." But hasn't that already happened? No one at this point thinks that these guys were masking steroids and every one generally believes they were simply trying to lose water weight.

The facts are laid out and there is plenty of blame to go around. The league should have told the players about the bumetanide. The players should have been more careful with what they put in their body and not tried to take a shortcut for weight loss. Heck, even the teams should shoulder some of the blame for whatever they decided to set the player's weights at for the weekly testing.

I am a proponent of as stringent a testing policy as possible to keep cheaters out of the league. I agree with the league that there is no way to decipher intent and because of that the league can't allow guys to consistently use the "tainted supplement" excuse considering it is as popular these days as "my dog ate my homework." But cooler heads should prevail and with the league failing to release information that they should have, a two-game suspension would be a sufficient enough deterrent going forward.

Email has to be one of the best inventions ever by the way ...

Love the column -- I really enjoy the player's perspective you give on issues of the day. Since you played for more than one team, I'm wondering how certain franchises are perceived within the NFL community. As a long-suffering Bengals fan, I can tell you the public opinion around here is we have a garbage owner whose mom-and-pop style will never get the team over the hump (I happen to agree). Do players try to avoid teams like the Bengals because of reputation? Or are they just happy to hook onto an NFL team and don't pay any attention to outside opinions? --Ryan Limke, Cincinnati

It really depends on the player and their personal preferences. There are certainly some organizations that players historically try to avoid for any number of reasons -- location, size of the market, thriftiness of the ownership, level of talent on the team or the coaching staff. Ultimately, however, it comes down to money and more often than not the player will go to the team that offers him the best contract or opportunity.

Though I think the Bengals reputation is probably well deserved from their history over the past 20 years, most guys who play there that I know really enjoy it and the ownership has changed their tight-fisted ways during the Marvin Lewis era. The Bengals aren't exactly fighting with the Redskins to be the top spender in the league but they have been willing to make some of the moves they deem necessary like signing Laveranues Coles to play wide receiver. They have a franchise quarterback and play in a great downtown facility in an underrated city and have sweet uniforms so there are plenty of things to like.

Ross, don't you have better things to write about? Harrison did not go because he did not want to! That is the end of the story, Ross. Find something better to write about. He is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and he decided not to go ... let it go! --Barry Hillen, Harker Heights, Texas

Hell hath no fury like the wrath of the Pittsburgh Steelers fanbase. I have previously written that they are the most loyal and committed fans in the league so I should have known as much when I wrote something negative about their beloved "Silverback."

The scathing critique of my story from last week went all the way from trying to explain and defend Harrison's statements on the matter, which are preposterous no matter how you try to spin it, to accusing me of being just another member of the liberal media who adores President Obama -- anyone who knows me realizes this is not the case. The fact that Harrison's teammates, like James Farrior, are calling him an idiot for the comments he has made should pretty much summarize the topic for all of you members of Steeler Nation.

The truth is I have a problem with any player who refuses to attend any of the events after winning a championship because I think it is a slap in the face to all of the players that so desperately want to experience those truly unique festivities. Harrison just got the brunt of my frustration because he compounded his poor decision with comments that are ridiculous at best. And no, he wasn't joking, as some of you opined. I wish he had been.

Certainly there are scheme and philosophical changes that come with coaching changes, but specifically, do new position coaches force technique changes? For example: Is it common for a new DB coach to mandate his backpedal technique even for proven veterans? --Brian Balash, Cincinnati

This is a very good question that I will probably flesh out into a larger article at some point, but the short answer is that it depends. Most professional coaches are smart enough to realize that if they have a proven veteran they can offer tips and suggestions without asking him to completely overhaul what has made him successful. There are some coaches, however, that are more interested in the player doing it their way even if that ultimately hurts the player and those coaches are usually driven by their own misguided ego. They believe their way is the only way when that is simply not the case. The less-accomplished the player, the more liberties coaches will take with them in terms of a "my way or the highway" mentality. That is why young players can bounce from team to team before finally washing out of the league. If you are constantly changing what you do and how you do it, how can you ever truly get good at it?

Do O-linemen feel a bit superior to D-lineman? The reason I ask is I have never forgotten Conrad Dobler's remark that the playbook for D-linemen is written in crayon. Enjoy your column, the perspective of someone who has actually played the game is a lot more enlightening than that of someone who only writes about it. Gives an insight into how incredibly difficult it is to play the game on a professional level. --Leonard, New York

I don't think so. I think defensive linemen play the least complicated position in the NFL and that there is a good number of guys wearing numbers in the 90s that would never be able to handle the mental aspect of playing offensive line. By the same token, however, almost no offensive linemen have the physical tools to play along the defensive line so it all evens out in terms of natural gifts. O-linemen may feel smarter but that doesn't mean superior.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.