Jason Ferguson: "I'm No Cheater"

By Matt Gullette

“I’m no cheater,” 310-pound nose-tackle Jason Ferguson told Omar Kelley of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in the latest twist of the substance-abuse suspension the veteran faces this season.

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Ferguson, a 14-year veteran, is set to serve an eight-game suspension at the start of the season for using a banned substance earlier this year. Today Ferguson discussed the reasoning behind the ban, not to clear the suspension, but rather to clear his name.

Regardless of Ferguson’s testimony, the 35-year-old will still serve the suspension; however, he wants the world to know that he isn’t being banned for being a “cheater,” but for simply being irresponsible.

According to Ferguson, he’s never knowingly used a performance enhancing supplement banned by the NFL; he claims the failed drug test he took earlier in March was the result of a recently banned medication he was taking for his blood pressure.

“I got in trouble with my blood pressure and I was taking that medication, which I’d been taking for a long time [on and off]. . . . But it ain’t a steroid because even the league will tell you my [urine] wasn’t diluted. It wasn’t nothing that’s going to make me stronger. It’s a blood pressure pill that makes you piss.”

Apparently he was eating too many offensive lineman for breakfast.

However ironic it may sound, it’s Ferguson’s reputation that’s now going down the drain because of the suspension.  The medication was still on the NFL’s banned substances list at the time he took the test, unbeknownst to Ferguson, which is a point that’s somewhat hard to argue.

But it’s hard to blame Ferguson entirely for the mistake. Sure, he’s guilty on paper, but what does this 310-pound lineman really know about medications or litigations? I mean don’t players have physicians or consultants for this kind of thing?

Either way, the suspension still remains and Ferguson himself remains guilty as charged. When asked, Ferguson couldn’t even remember the name of the medication he took, but he admits that he should have checked with the NFL first to see if it was banned. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

“I was being lazy, and I’ll do the time for that. But not one time have I ever taken something that enhanced my abilities,” said Ferguson.

The incident marks the second time Ferguson’s been suspended by the NFL for violating the drug policy; the first incident happened in 1999 when Ferguson missed four games as a member of the division-rival New York Jets. (He claimed that failed drug test was due to an over-the-counter dietary supplement he didn’t know was banned until it was too late).

“I just wish the league would be more black and white with the suspension. You let people know we’re suspended, then let them know what happened. Don’t have them speculating,” Ferguson said. “The way they put it out is I failed something on the steroid list. I never took any steroids, no pills, or injections. I have high blood pressure and took something that’s on the [banned] list. My mistake is not being aware of what’s on the list.”

Whether he was intentionally trying to cheat or not, rules are rules, and he (along with the Dolphins) will have to live up to the consequences.

Surprisngly the Miami Dolphins still re-signed the 35-year-old Ferguson to a one-year deal just three days after the suspension, despite the fact that he’ll be missing eight games AND ALSO in spite of the fact that he missed part of last season with a knee injury. It’s not surprising, though, when you consider how much of a monster the nose-tackle is to opposing offensive lineman.

In the meantime, six-year veteran Randy Starks will start at nose-tackle for Miami while Fergie waits for his redemption. Starks had 56 tackles for the Fins in ’09 tying for second on the team with seven sacks.

Note to all pharmacists in the greater South Florida area: don’t give either of these men any over-the-counter laxatives without first consulting every credible NFL doctor in the league. Nose-tackles are supposed to be big in the first place.

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