Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at email@example.com.
Santana Moss’s name is out there. Now what?
(updated at 6:19 p.m.)
Redskins veteran receiver Santana Moss is the player Dr. Anthony Galea and his assistant were en route to meet last September when the assistant was discovered at the U.S.-Canada border in possession of Nutropin (human growth hormone) and the unapproved drug Actovegin, according to a Buffalo News report.
The Washington Post reported this morning that Moss received HGH from Galea, an allegation that appears to be supported by evidence listed in Canadian court documents. (update: The Post has since changed it’s story to indicate that Moss was treated by Galea. Language about him receiving HGH has been removed.)
Moss evaded the matter when he was approached by a Post reporter on Wednesday, before his name surfaced in the Buffalo News report.
“I’ll talk about football,” Moss told The Post. “I don’t know about nothing else.”
So the great “who is it?” mystery of the last two days will quiet down. The name was bound to come out at some point because the case against Galea is in the judicial system.
Now that it has, though, what does this mean for Moss and the team?
For starters, the Buffalo News reports that prosecutors are not pursuing any charges against Moss. It’s illegal to use HGH without a prescription, not to mention that the substance is banned by the NFL.
There was always a high likelihood that the player mentioned in Tuesday’s criminal complaint would be suspended. All that’s changed today is that Moss’ alleged involvement is public. The NFL could have discovered his identity on its own through court documents and interviews.
At this point, then, it’s imperative to note that the NFL can suspend a player for violating its policy on performance-enhancing drug even without a positive drug test. After all, the NFL doesn’t test for HGH, so the league pursues other proof of use.
“When we have had evidence of illegal purchase, possession, or use of HGH, we have imposed discipline and are fully prepared to do so again if the facts support it,” the NFL said in a statement on Tuesday.
That means Moss could face a suspension—the precedent is four games—to start the season. That depends, though, on how quickly the NFL wants to pursue the matter. If they wait for the Galea case to play out in court, perhaps the Moss is suspended later on.
The evidence against Moss that has been publicized in various court documents and media reports that cite court documents leads one to believe that he’ll eventually be suspended.
Matching up this morning’s Buffalo News report and the Canadian court documents cited by ESPN in a report on Tuesday, the evidence against Moss is damning.
The Buffalo News report indirectly pegs Moss as the athlete referred to as “Athlete A” in Canadian court documents cited by ESPN. And according to ESPN, the Canadian court documents allege that “Athlete A” received HGH and a vitamin drip from Galea on Aug. 12, 2009.
“Athlete A” is alleged by Canadian court documents, per ESPN, to be the player Galea was en route to see in Washington on Sept. 14, the date his assistant was detained.
The criminal complaint against Galea filed in U.S. district court on Tuesday is less detailed and, thus, less damning, but that might not help Moss any considering the apparent strength of evidence in the Canadian documents.
All the American documents allege is that the Washington-area player (reportedly Moss) called Galea to schedule a medical procedure and that the player reserved two hotel rooms for it. Sept. 14, by the way, was the day after the Week 1 loss to the Giants last year.
So with the court documents and today’s reports strongly linking Moss to HGH possession and use, the Redskins have to consider the strong possibility of playing a quarter of the season without the player who has led them in receiving in each of the last five seasons. Four games isn’t the end of the world. Suddenly, though, signing Joey Galloway makes a little more sense.
Coach Mike Shanahan said on Wednesday that it’s time for third-year receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly to meet expectations. They’ll get their chance if Moss is suspended.
The suspension could also help a receiver at the bottom of the depth chart make the team out of training camp. Things just got interesting for guys like Bobby Wade, Marques Hagans, Anthony Armstrong and Roydell Williams. Wade, Hagans and Armstrong could help their cases with strong pushes on special teams.
Finally, let me offer a few personal words.
You won’t hear me taking the moral high ground on this issue. I grapple with the supposed immorality of PED use. If I could take a pill to help make me a better journalist, which in turn would help me pay the bills, would I do it? Would it be immoral to do it? If a surgeon that’s operating on you could take a pill to steady her hands and improve her vision, would you want her to? Good question.
Now, the difference with pro athletes is that their leagues have collectively bargained rules against using PEDs. Breaking the rules is breaking the rules. Plus, a lot of those drugs are against the law. But should we distinguish between healthy players that use PEDs to get an edge and injured players just trying to return to health? Perhaps.
Phillip Daniels raised an interesting point yesterday when he said it’s possible that the Redskins player in question received treatment from Dr. Galea without knowing it contained HGH. It’s certainly possible that Galea told the player he was administering vitamins or whatever. Of course, it’s ultimately up to the player to manage what’s put in his body, but then you’re raising the question of intent to use PEDs.
Is Moss a cheater if the doctor lied to him and said he wasn’t administering HGH? These are important questions to ask before you judge Moss or any accused player.
In the year or so that I’ve known Moss, I’ve found him to be thoughtful and extremely generous with his time with reporters. I know I speak for the Redskins media corps when I say that he is one of our favorite players to engage in the locker room and on the sideline.
I won’t judge him for the reasons I just explained, but it is a sad day for the Redskins and their fans to have the name of such a respected veteran and leader linked to a crime.
I want to hear your thoughts on this. Leave a comment, shoot me an email or hit me on Twitter @Rich_Campbell.