I am of tired of hearing about steroids in sports as a person can possibly be, but the most recent former athlete to come forward really got me thinking. Hall of Fame Quarterback Terry Bradshaw admitted to taking ‘steroids’ in the 70s. I have a couple of problems with this. First steroids have dominated the media, we are now even concerned about it in horse racing. There is not a day that goes by where you are not constantly reminded of the scandals and controversies associated with it. Beyond the redundant nature of the coverage associated with these stories is the fact that Bradshaw has now fueled the fire with a very vague admittance of his use. To those in the general public meaning those not in the medical field, those who have not played sports at a competitive level, and those who are not particularly knowledgeable with either of those fields the connotation of the word Steroids is a kiss of death. During Bradshaw’s comments on his use he stated
We did steroids to get away the aches and the speed of healing. My use of steroids from a doctor was to speed up injury, and thought nothing of it… It was to speed up the healing process, that was it. It wasn’t to get bigger and stronger and faster.
That is where we get into the differences between anabolic steroids and corticosteroids. To break it down easily and quickly in layman’s terms: Anabolic Steroids are most commonly related to hormones specifically testosterone. They effect protein which in turns helps one build cell mass especially in muscles. Hence performance enhancing, cheating, bigger, stronger, faster, ect. Corticosteroids on the other hand help with such thing as response to stress, inflammation, and immune systems. They are used for a wide variety medical treatments and are administered in a variety of ways. Cortisone is a form of these steroids that are used regularly in professional sports and more importantly are not illegal/banned. They would take care of the getting away from aches part, but the long term effects actually hurt the athlete. I would delve further, but that would be going to far for my particular point.
Terry Bradshaw was a great athlete, is a great commentator, and a seemingly good person. The second problem I have with this story is that the lack of clarification of what he took is disturbing considering the effects that anabolic steroids had on the rest of his teammates. According to an article written by on CBS Sports 34 former Steelers players have passed away since 2000, with 16 of them being under the age of 59 (8 in their 50’s. 5 in their 40’s, 2 in their 30’s) . Seven of those 34 were linked to ‘heart problems’. This story goes on and on, with reports of attempted suicides, heart failures, partial brain damage, ect. I hate to add Bradshaw on a list of former Steelers who have allegedly lost their lives due to the steroid use in the 70’s and 80’s, but he needs to be more careful and much clearer about his use. If not only because of how sensitive the steroid issue is on a whole today, but out of respect and consideration for fellow teammates who have \suffered far worse fates.