Terry Taylor Defends the AP’s Re-vote as the “Fair Thing to do”
Suspicion has always followed Clay Matthews, the former USC linebacker, since he entered school at just 165 lbs. and bulked up to jacked 246 lbs. by the NFL Scouting Combine. 81 pounds later, the suspicion was not enough to keep the player from being drafted in the first round and putting together one of the best rookie seasons of any player in the NFL. In fact, he finished third in the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award – at least the first time the votes were cast.It was that player’s college teammate, Brian Cushing, who won the award, yet won the award after playing almost the entire season under the knowledge that he had tested positive for a banned substance. With that knowledge, which is new to the Associated Press since the NFL recently announced Cushing’s four-game suspension to start the 2010 NFL season, the AP has decided to open up the voting to allow the 50 voters to recast ballots for the award among the top four vote getters.
My point is not to indict the aforementioned third place finisher, but to note that, the more we learn about PEDs and banned substance, the more the line between guilt and innocence blurs. Some players arise suspicion, yet never do anything “wrong.” Some players test positive and are even suspended yet, have reasonable excuses. Some players deliberately break the rules and gain from doing so, yet are never caught. Some players are caught, yet so far after the fact that it is impossible to do anything about it. And very, very few players, intend to “cheat,” get caught and fully admit to and acknowledge its benefit.With so many unknowns in the process, are we to assume that every ballot would be re-opened each time there is any new information learned (or even assumed) about any player who earned any votes (what if the third place finisher of an award tests positive and all of his votes would have gone to the second place finisher)? This seems like far too much work and banter for piece of paper and a prize-less title – especially when Cushing may still win the award.
And then what should we make of that?
AP Sports Editor Terry Taylor joined Joe and Evan on WFAN in New York to discuss re-voting for the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award, similar situations in the future, and on what happens if Brian Cushing does not with the award after the re-vote.
On deciding to re-vote on the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year:
“It is unprecedented. You know what? He’s still on the ballot. He could end up winning again. I haven’t counted. I haven’t looked, but I logged on this morning and saw two ballots go by with his name still there. Here’s what we did. As you know, this broke on Friday, where he said that the took a banned-non-steroid substance. Whatever it was and it wasn’t named, it’s still considered a banned substance by the NFL. He lost his appeal. He’s got a four-game suspension. This was very deliberate. We’ve never done this at the AP. It took a long time. It took an entire shift. It was about eight hours. We talked it out with senior editors. I have to tell you, in case there are any questions, there was no single voter that said, ‘You should do this.’ There was no demand from any voter – and there are 50 of them. The whole basis for any vote, whether it’s college football, college basketball or the NFL awards that we do, is informed vote. It’s on-field performance. In this case, we can talk about Julius Peppers and Shawne Merriman, but in this case, they didn’t know. They didn’t know until long after they cast their ballot that there was a suspension, there was what was considered an infraction, then the penalty was handed down and he said he took something… We thought the best thing to do was to put it out there again and leave his name on there.”
On at one point has enough time passed not to re-vote:
“There is no retroactive vote. This is a fresh vote. This is from the season in which we last gave our awards. This is a fresh set of votes. The NFL awards, they came out in January. We had nothing in place. We’ve never encountered this before.”
On if she foresees this happening again in the near future:
“I can tell you, from what went into the decision yesterday, I surely hope not. If I may say this, I don’t think so and I hope not… I really do think that there is less tolerance from everybody out there – the leagues, the public and that includes the media – for steroids, PEDs and everything. We have all lived through the headlines. This is me speaking, I am not speaking for the voters here, but I think there is much more of an awareness of these things and I think there is much more of a reaction to it.”
On the process to make this decision:
“It’s very deliberate. I am the sports editor. I have a number of senior managers at the AP. They were all informed. And this is the decision of AP senior editors. We were all in agreement on this. It’s not something you just want to rush out and do. It took all of the day to talk about this and the significance of this and to just go out and do it. We thought it was the fair thing to do.”
And on what happens if Cushing does not win the re-vote:
“It’s a title. There was no monetary award with this. He just relinquishes his title as the rookie defensive award winner.”