The big story out of Miami on Tuesday was the Dolphins' decision to bring back veteran nose tackle Jason Ferguson despite the recent news that he is facing an eight game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Of course, the move has generated a rather big debate among many Dolphin fans, some of which are wondering why the Dolphins would bring back a 35 year old nose tackle who is rehabbing from injury and is now likely out for the first half of the 2010 season due to this suspension.
I can't say I blame them for questioning this decision.
But before we jump the gun, it's important to note that we really don't know enough about Ferguson's suspension. The term "performance-enhancing drug" is pretty vague. Ferguson could have been suspended for taking weight-loss medication. Or he could have been taking some kind of substance that would help him recover faster from his quadriceps surgery. Or he could have taken some substance that he didn't even know was banned.
Or he could have taken steroids.
The point is that we really have no idea what he took or the circumstances surrounding the suspension. However, cheating is cheating and Jason is 100% responsible for whatever he did. Pro athletes have got to know what they can and can't put in their own body. Ferguson got caught - for the second time in his career, that is - and now he must pay the price.
With all that said, I'd imagine Ferguson - who has a great relationship with Bill Parcells - sat down with this front office and explained in detail why he was suspended. Perhaps the Dolphins know something we don't. Maybe they know Jason is planning an appeal and think his suspension could be reduced.
Or maybe Bill Parcells is just too loyal to "his guys." And that's exactly what Ferguson is.
"In Parcells' world, loyalty is important. That's why loyalty is the best way to explain why the Dolphins re-signed Ferguson to an undisclosed deal Monday," writes Omar Kelly.
So is Bill's loyalty blinding him? Was this a good move for the Dolphins?
I think there are positives and negatives to the move. Some of the possible negatives include:
- The fear of having a player with two PED suspensions around some of the young, impressionable players on this team.
- The front office becoming complacent with the state of the nose tackle position on this team. I really hope the Dolphins do not decide to avoid addressing the need at NT because they know that Ferguson will be returning for the second half of the season.
- The money handed to Ferguson. The Dolphins are already paying $2.5 million to a supposed "3rd string quarterback." Now they're giving out more of Stephen Ross's money to a player who won't be playing for half of the season.
- The idea that the front office is filled with hypocrites. Bill Parcells has said he doesn't want any "thugs or hoodlums" on this team. But this roster has a couple of guys who have been arrested and now will have a two-time PED offender. And yet, this is the same front office that doesn't want to acquire any players from outside the organization who have questionable character issues. It just doesn't look good.
After saying all that, I will admit that I believe the pros do outweigh the cons here. Some of the positives include:
- Being a great guy to have in the locker room, despite the two PED suspensions. He's well-liked and considered a consummate professional, two suspensions not withstanding. I'd imagine Jason will make it a point to address the team and explain what happened, taking full responsibility for his actions.
- Being a mentor for Paul Soliai and/or any other young nose tackle that is brought in. What he's learned in his 10+ seasons in the league would be invaluable to helping develop a future nose tackle. It's a tough position to transition to from college and anything he could teach young nose tackles would be huge.
- Having a fresh nose tackle coming back to the team midway through the season for the playoff push. He won't take up a roster spot on the 53-man roster until his suspension is over. And when he does finally come back, the Dolphins will have an experienced veteran nose tackle with a fresh body to step into the nose tackle rotation.
So that's a little bit of my hopefully coherent rambling on this subject. I'll be very interested in learning how much money this contract is worth. But for now, I can't say I'm against the move. But I'm certainly not 100% for it. Put me down as "somewhat" in favor of the move.
So what about all of you?