JOHN DOHERTY: Shrinkage may be salvation of NFL

2013-06-17T17:30:00Z 2013-06-17T20:08:37Z JOHN DOHERTY: Shrinkage may be salvation of NFLJohn Doherty Times Columnist
June 17, 2013 5:30 pm  • 

Amid the hysteria permeating Major League Baseball's Biogenesis scandal, the media largely continues to ignore the 600-pound gorilla sitting in the room.

Tell me, please, do you have any doubt that Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, et al are rightfully in the cross hairs of MLB investigators? If they are ultimately suspended, will you be the least bit surprised?

Meanwhile, the NFL Players' Association continues to stall implementation of testing for Human Growth Hormone, and nobody seems to care. As a result, NFL teams may not have any 600-pound gorillas on their rosters, but they remain overpopulated with 300-pound linemen doing a pretty good imitation.

Do you really believe the size and speed on display on Sundays is solely the result of weight room and training table?

If you do, I refer you then to the injury reports from recent team OTAs.

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree, 25, tore his right Achilles tendon.

Seattle Seahawks tight end Anthony McCoy, 25, tore his right Achilles tendon.

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, 25, partially tore one of his left hamstring tendons.

Philadelphia Eagles offensive left tackle Jason Peters, 31, missed time as he continues to recover from a right Achilles tendon tear and reconstruction, which cost him the entirety of last season.

Free agent wide receiver Austin Collie, 27, was going from camp to camp on a job search as he recovers from a torn right patellar tendon suffered last year. One of the teams he visited was the 49ers, in the wake of Crabtree's injury.

Let's be clear. I am not saying that any one of these individuals was using HGH or some other illicit performance enhancing drug.

Nonetheless, the science says the epidemic level of these tendon tears is associated precisely with use of anabolic steroids and HGH. Both substances help muscles build to the point that they are able to overpower the tendons to which they are attached.

Furthermore, the steroids actually weaken tendon, which will wear out over an extended period of time in athletes who do not use PEDs. Those type of tears, though, typically occur in those who are in their late 30s.

Chemically induced bigger, faster, stronger, then, comes at a very high price and not just later in life. Those who suffer tendon ruptures may eventually return to playing but are rarely, if ever, the same.

Then there is the issue of concussion. Just ask Collie, who was sidelined significant portions of his four years with the Colts by repeated concussions.

Ask Lem Barney, too.

For younger readers not familiar with the name, Barney was a seven-time All-Pro defensive back with the Lions in the 60s and 70s. Last week, while appearing at a high school football camp in suburban Detroit, the 67-year-old predicted the increasing size and speed of players would ultimately make the game too dangerous for the brain and end it within the next two decades.

If NFL players weren't taking HGH and were to shrink to more normal size and slow to more human speed, then the laws of physics would make concussion — and career-ruining tendon tears — less likely.

John Doherty is a certified athletic trainer and licensed physical therapist. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT.

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