February 23, 2005
BY: John Molori
- Steve talks steroids
DeOssie gives straight talk on steroids
In twelve NFL seasons, Sports Radio 850 WEEI and WBZ-TV commentator Steve DeOssie saw everything and did almost everything.
One thing he did not do is steroids. Still, in the wake of Jose Canseco’s flammable book, “Juiced,” DeOssie has provided some of the most lucid commentary on the subject of steroids in sports.
“I think there is some truth to what Canseco has written,” says DeOssie, who played for the Cowboys, Giants, Jets and Patriots in his pro career. “But as an ex-athlete, it grinds me that he is dropping dimes on his teammates.”
DeOssie says that much of Canseco’s “revelations” may stem from jealousy. He states, “When I played, there were guys who assumed that anyone who was playing beyond the norm must be on steroids.
“Because they couldn’t do it without steroids, they assumed the same thing about the better player. In truth, they were just superior athletes with a better work ethic. Canseco is ticked off because guys like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are held in higher esteem by Major League Baseball than he is.”
There are some parts of Canseco’s story that simply don’t figure for DeOssie. “I saw rampant steroid use in college and in the pros,” says the former Boston College great.
“You just don’t see two guys going into a bathroom stall together in the lockerroom. Canseco says he injected McGwire before games. Steroids don’t give you such an immediate impact. It’s not like doing a line of cocaine. Those things set off the B.S. alarm with Canseco."
DeOssie says that while with the Cowboys (1984-88), he witnessed much steroid use among players. He says that once the NFL began random testing in the 1990s, use of steroids diminished greatly with many players moving to human growth hormone (HGH).
He states that steroids were never taken in the lockerroom, but in the privacy of dorm rooms or a player’s own home. While DeOssie says he never took steroids, he does not place himself on any kind of pedestal.
“I was 240 pounds coming out of high school,” he states. “Schools like Colorado and Miami were recruiting me to play offensive line. I decided that I wanted to play linebacker and chose Boston College.
“Make no mistake, had I been a 215 pound linebacker, I would have definitely taken steroids to get bigger. Given that I was already polluting my body with drugs and alcohol at the time, I would not have thought twice about it. I thought I was invincible.”
The former high school baseball standout has a problem with connecting steroids to statistics. He states, “Who will set the guidelines? Bonds was a Hall of Famer before his body changed.
“What percentage of home runs is caused by steroids? It’s ridiculous. Very few people know about steroids inside out. In fact, only a handful of doctors truly know about them.”
DeOssie relates that coaches and administrators turned a blind eye toward steroid use during his pro and college career. He calls it a “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” and says that coaches pretended that it was not there.
Overall, he applauds the media for their current handling of this complicated topic, but wishes that his own station had done more.
“Glenn Ordway and Larry Johnson did a great job interviewing Canseco, but it did glamorize steroid use. I would have liked to see WEEI have someone come on the air after Jose and talk about the disastrous effects that steroids can have on your body. Canseco did expose himself as someone not terribly credible. He is not a very smart person.”
Having played alongside teammates who used steroids, DeOssie separates fact from fiction as to the physical signs.
He states, “No one has the same body at 30 that they had at 20, but I saw guys go from 230 pounds to 280 pounds in an offseason. Acne on the back and overly large jaw muscles are telltale signs. I’ve been in more than 100 gyms in my life and I’ve never seen a jaw muscle machine.”
Sadly, he views professional sports' approach to steroids as one that places fiscal health over physical health. “It’s all about marketing. Did baseball want to address steroids during the 1998 home run race? Teams and organizations have short-term thinking. Part of it is just plain stupid and part of it is simply not giving a (expletive deleted).”
The historic aspect of steroid use is not lost on DeOssie. “How would you like to be Hank Aaron? He has always conducted himself with class and has been an incredible gentleman. His home run totals are going to be surpassed by Bonds and it will be the least talked about record in terms of glory.
“When Bonds passes Babe Ruth, he won’t get any glory and he’ll play the race card. The fact is that it’s not a race issue. It’s a drug issue.”
Dale Arnold, WEEI - Arrival of new partner takes second stage to the fact that Arnold can carry a show alongside anyone. Deserves full credit for making midday a moneymaker for WEEI.
Mike Winn, WWZN - GM will never catch WEEI in ratings, but has kept the station going by selling time to hosts with interesting shows and topics. Moreover, “Sporting News Radio” announced last week that the station is no longer for sale.
World Series Winter, NESN - Replays of Red Sox title run melt the snow and fans’ hearts. There is nothing better than great baseball without the minor coronaries worrying about the games’ outcomes. Tom Caron and Dennis Eckersley are in midseason form as hosts.
Lenny Megliola, WEEI - Metro West scribe comes off as a whiney old crab on-air and simply does not listen to callers. Turned a deaf ear to “Ted Nation” caller trying to explain why all baseball stats are skewed, steroids or not. The more Megliola is on radio, the more I wish he’d stick to writing.
Lou Tilley, CN8 - Philly “Sports Connection” host’s recent SI Swimsuit segment was childish, sexist and, most important, not funny. Tilley looks the part, but lacks depth and knowledge. Maybe the stylish and substantive Ed Berliner can do two hours.
Bronson Arroyo, Trot Nixon, Boston Red Sox - Enough with the anti-Yankee, anti-Alex Rodriguez venom. You beat them. Now, let it go. Constant Yankee carping is making 2004 champs look like 2005 chumps.
John Molori’s Media Blitz column is published in The Providence Journal, The Boston Metro, The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, The Salem Evening News, The Newburyport Daily News, The Gloucester Times, The Lowell Sun, Patriots Football Weekly, PatsFans.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com, RedSoxNation.net and MethuenOnline.com. Email John at JOMOL3@aol.com.
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