NFL: Cushing keeps AP Defensive Rookie award
By BARRY WILNER
AP Football Writer
NEW YORK — Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing won a revote Wednesday to keep The Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award, despite his positive drug test.
The second vote was taken after the league suspended Cushing without pay for four games last week for violating the NFL's drug policy. He tested positive in September. Although Cushing said he took a non-steroid substance, the league still considers it a performance-enhancer.
The AP decided to have a revote, with a Wednesday noon deadline.
That revote gave Cushing 18 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who cover the league. Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd received 13 votes, and Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews III got 12. Washington linebacker Brian Orakpo earned three votes, and St. Louis linebacker James Laurinaitis got one.
"I'm good," Byrd said, referring to the result. "Yeah, I'm fine with it."
One voter was not available to cast a ballot, and two voters abstained. In all, 19 voters switched from Cushing to another player, and one voted for Cushing after picking Byrd originally.
In the original balloting in January, Cushing received 39 votes to six for Byrd, three for Matthews and two for Orakpo.
Cushing did lose his spot on the All-Pro second team, for which he originally had five votes and now has just one.
"If I had known in January when we initially voted that Brian Cushing had tested positive for a banned substance, I might not have voted for him," said Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and president of the Pro Football Writers of America. "However, Cushing won the award in January, and I don't feel like we should revise history. I am concerned about the precedent."
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle voted for Cushing the first time and had "no problem" voting for him again.
"In good conscience, I couldn't not vote for him after voting for Julius Peppers in 2002 knowing he'd tested positive (and won the same award), and for Kevin Williams on the All-Pro team knowing he'd tested positive (in the StarCaps case).
"I also believe taking the award from Cushing would have opened up a Pandora's box when it came to players and awards. I think the AP should make it a rule that a player who tests positive is going to be subjected to a revote."
A person familiar with Cushing's case told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Cushing tested positive for HCG, a fertility drug that is on the NFL's banned substance list. The person said Cushing had one positive test last September, then subsequently tested negative several times. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the test results were supposed to remain confidential.
Cushing is suspended without pay until Oct. 4, although he can participate in offseason workouts, training camp and preseason games. He will not be eligible for next season's Pro Bowl — he made the AFC team last January, but did not play, citing several injuries — or any NFL-sponsored awards.
"A player who tests positive for a performance-enhancing drug, especially a masking agent for steroids, should not be honored with a prestigious award," said Adam Schein of Sirius NFL Radio and foxsports.com, who also votes. "He failed the test in September. His season is tainted. This is wrong.
"I am very disappointed in the results of the revote and my fellow voters who voted for Cushing."