For some reason, those who have been suspended in the NFL for performance-enhancing drugs aren’t treated the same as baseball players.
Baseball players generally carry around scorn the rest of their careers after positive tests or even just accusations (with a few exceptions, and without exception the PED cheats who are forgiven are the ones who are friendly with the media), but NFL players just come back and everyone moves on like nothing happened. Oh, hey, Antonio Gates, good to have you back.
Gates, the San Diego Chargers tight end, was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He said it was for supplements and holistic medicines. Because the NFL doesn’t specify what triggered the positive test, players can always blame something like supplements or Adderall. Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe, without making a specific accusation toward Gates, said that Gates tarnished his name and put a stain on his resume after testing positive. But Gates returned on Monday night after serving his four-game suspension and was right back in the Chargers’ offensive plans.
Gates, who had 12 touchdown catches last year at age 34, caught passes on the Chargers’ first two plays. At the end of the first drive he caught a touchdown, the 100th of his career. Gates is the ninth player in NFL history with 100 touchdown receptions. He is just 11 touchdowns behind Tony Gonzalez for the all-time record for tight ends.
When he made his first catch, ESPN’s Jon Gruden gushed about how much he loved Gates and how he wanted Gates to get his 100th touchdown on Monday night. Gruden made no mention of the suspension during his soliloquy. The NFL just moves on. Serve a PED suspension and it’s unlikely to be mentioned again, at least unless there’s another positive test.
The NFL had four straight tweets celebrating Gates from its official account on Monday night:
Gates coming right back and getting a milestone off his suspension could have been uncomfortable, kind of like New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez and his home-run milestones this year. But it’s the NFL. Gates was back, so everyone just moved on.
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