Last night we saw a tremendously interesting football game on Monday Night Football, where the Washington Redskins - ten point dogs - beat the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas. In the third quarter, probably the toughest quarterback in the game - Tony Romo - took a huge hit to his back and went down in pain. He returned to the locker room, fearing the worst (he had back surgery last year in a game, coincidentally against the Skins), but came back in and finished the game.
I watched his press conference last evening and he was asked if he took a painkiller "shot" to get back in.
"Yes, I took something", he said.
A shot for a track and field athlete can be worth a jail sentence, an EPO regimen for a cyclist has them on Oprah begging for forgiveness. For a hockey player or football player a lot of things are no big deal.
Meanwhile in horse racing, Doug O'Neill is getting (another, it seems it happens so often) holiday for a drug positive. On the Paulick Report last evening, it was reported that a jock was found with buzzers in his car during a parking lot search.
The line I think is drawn in every sport, or every game, however - other than the obvious with horse racing; the horse is a living breathing animal who can't make decisions for him or herself - is if the infraction is dangerous to the athlete and integrity of the game.
In horse racing people bet to the tune of $10 billion a year, horse owners, stud farms and others invest millions into the horses. If the game is not on the up and up bettors leave, owners leave and the game goes poof. If a cyclist or football player has his blood turn to sludge because of bloodbuilders, that's bad for the game, too. They are not tolerated because they attack both the supply side (up and coming cyclists, horse ownership) and the demand side (TV viewers, sponsors and bettors).
A pain shot for Tony Romo does not do irreparable harm to the game. In fact, it probably adds to the games lore.There will be watercooler talk about it, people will tune in for his game next week. The NFL - a sport where if you took a puff of weed or HGH and you're gone - loves this stuff. A jockey with a battery or trainer with a positive test does not add to horse racing's lore, other than being another chapter in a long list of ringers and rascals - those in the sport that try and get an edge, to make more money, at the expense of our equine athletes, and fellow owners and trainers.
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