Maurice's barking several minutes later was frantic, not like his usual growl or warning bellow. He really meant it. Loud knocking on the front door followed, increasing the dog's already fever-pitched intensity.
"You've got to be kidding me. Release the hound. Better yet, shoot and ask questions later," he instructed Ellen as she jumped up and peaked through the blinds at the front door."There's a guy out there with a case. Looks like some sort of salesman. A car is parked outside the gate. Must have walked up." Their property on the lake, which Warren had purchased as a bachelor three years ago, was secluded and private. There was a small pedestrian gate next to the larger automated main gate, but this was the first time an uninvited guest was brazen enough to ignore the "no trespassing" and "trespassers will be eaten" signs, as well as the fully functional intercom wired to the house. "Come back to bed. He'll go away. Probably just a Jehovah's Witness." "Shit," Ellen muttered, as she donned her robe and stomped out of the bedroom. She walked briskly to the front door and faced the man through the beveled glass. "Look. We're not up yet. Please go away. . ." "I'm with the league office, ma'am. I need to see a Mr. Warren Coffey." "What's this all about?" He reached into the pocket of his white lab coat, pulled out a wallet, opened it, and held his credentials up to the window for Ellen to see. "Official league business ma'am. Please lock up your dog, let me in, and produce Mr. Coffey immediately." Genuine concern overtook her as she rushed back to the bedroom. Coffey was already struggling with a pair of blue jeans and had donned an old Detroit Engine grey tee. "Warren. What's the matter? What does the league office want with you? What did you do?" "I have a feeling I know what this is about." He limped to the front door and opened it. Maurice, who had calmed down considerably, sat obedient and silent behind him. "Hey, how's it going? Come on in." "You'll need to restrain your dog." "He's fine. Not to worry. He's a big baby, really. Can I get you a cup. . ." "Mr. Coffey, if you don't restrain your dog immediately and let me get on with this test, I will have no option but to charge you with a refusal." "Come on, boy." Maurice hesitated a moment, growled softly, then eyed the strange man as he obediently followed Coffey into the bedroom. "What in the world is going on, Warren? What did you do?" "Darlin', now why do you think I did something? A little confidence, please." "Does this have something to do with that fight in Minnesota two weeks ago?" "The league office doesn't come to your house to collect fines for on-field fights." "Warren, please, what's. . ." "Random drug test." "At nine in the morning?" "I've heard they've rousted guys at six. Consider us lucky." "You've got to be kidding!" "Look. Stay in here with Maurice. I'll get rid of this guy and we can take up where we left off." She ignored his instructions and followed him out of the bedroom, closing the door behind her and leaving a befuddled Maurice, who had never been locked in the bedroom before, or anywhere else for that matter. Confused, he started whining immediately. "Look, sorry about the dog, come on. . ." he started to say as he motioned the piss taker into the house. "What took you so long just now, Mr. Coffey?" the man in the lab coat asked as he crossed the threshold and entered the house. "That's twice now you've been out of my sight after knowing of my presence. That type of behavior could constitute a non-valid test and an automatic violation." "Look, take it easy. What could I have done in thirty seconds? You told me to lock up the dog. I locked up the dog." "He was talking to me, for goodness sake," Ellen snapped. "You'd be surprised by some of the desperate behavior I've witnessed. Let's get on with it, shall we? My name is Jason Peete. I'm from the league office in New York." He once again flashed his credentials. "Mr. Coffey, you've been randomly selected to produce a urine sample to test for the presence of performance enhancing drugs in your body, per the collective bargaining agreement signed between the United Football League and the United Football League Player's Association in June of 2004. The league apologizes for this intrusion into your home, but it is imperative that participants have no knowledge of this test prior to its administration. If you refuse this test, it will be treated the same as a positive test and will count the same as a positive result. Do you wish to proceed with this test, Mr. Coffey?" "Sure." He produced a urine receptacle and a pair of rubber gloves, both sealed in plastic, from his black case. He placed the urine bottle on the kitchen table and struggled with the seal on the bag containing the plastic gloves while Coffey and Ellen stole a glance at each other. Coffey had a look of bemusement and impatience. Ellen was outraged. Coffey guessed the man was about his age—about twenty-eight. Under the lab coat he was dressed conservatively in black slacks, tie, white shirt, and wing tips. He stood a few inches taller than Ellen, around six-one. A mild case of acne covered old acne scars on the upper reaches of his cheeks. His mid section was about as wide as his shoulders, giving him a squarish appearance. His posture was poor, accentuating the small paunch he carried around his middle. He held his stomach out, his chest back, and his head forward as he concentrated on his work. Silver-tinted black glasses, with thick lenses, framed his face, which now had a look of frustration upon it. "This guy has got to be president of the Geek Squad," Coffey thought as he searched for something to say to relieve the awkwardness. "Here, let me help you with that. It's Jason, right?" Coffey attempted to grab the plastic bag. The piss taker recoiled as if prodded by an electrical shock, stumbling awkwardly backward a few steps. "Please, Mr. Coffey. If you continue to try and compromise the validity of this test, I'll have no option but to deem you uncooperative, which, penalty-wise, is the same as a positive result." "Hey, take it easy, man. I'm just trying to move things along here." The piss taker discovered newfound strength from the intrusion and the plastic bag ripped apart, the two rubber gloves falling to the floor. Embarrassed, he quickly gathered them and put one on and then the other, ending each movement with a definitive "snap" as he pulled them tightly over his fingers and hand. He began struggling with the next plastic package containing the urine bottle. Ellen, still outraged over the intrusion on their privacy, couldn't take her baby's discontentment any more. Maurice's whining had been constant since he'd been trapped in the bedroom, and he was now scratching at the door. She walked over to the door, soothing him with an "it's OK sweetheart," and placed her hand on the doorknob. "Hold it right there!" the piss taker ordered. Ellen froze, her hand still on the knob. The expression on her face simultaneously oozed resentment, anger, and spine tingling indignation, and it made Coffey, who was all too familiar with that look, physically cringe in anticipation of what was about to come. "If you leave that dog out, I'll have no choice but to charge your husband with a positive result." "What exactly is your problem?" Ellen countered, still grasping the doorknob. "You come barging in here like God Almighty and order me to lock my dog in the bedroom. Maurice doesn't know anything about any piss test. Why punish him? And just who the (expletive) do you think you are, coming into my home and telling me what to do." "Ellen, please. . ." "Shut up, Warren. I'll handle this." Ellen was on a roll. She turned her attention back to the piss taker. "I've got a mind to kick your little dweeb ass out of here, and don't think I can't do it. Now this is how it's going to be. I'm letting my dog out of the bedroom. He's going to sit obediently over there in that corner. Then you're going to do whatever it is you do and get the hell out of my house!" She opened the bedroom door and wordlessly pointed. Maurice, like Coffey, knew better than to mess with Ellen when she was like this. With his tail between his legs and staying low to the ground, he quickly slid over to the corner. "It's just that one hair off your dog could compromise my urine test and get me into a whole lot of hot water," the piss taker retorted sheepishly. A look of satisfaction came over his face as he finally broke the seal on the second plastic bag, this time catching the contents before they fell to the floor. "Now, let's get this done and I'll be on my way. Mr. Coffey, shall we?" Coffey reached for the bottle, but the piss taker recoiled once again, guarding the bottle with both hands. "I don't think you understand, Mr. Coffey. This is an observed test. The procedure was supposed to have been fully explained to you." "Well, hold that sucker out and lets get ‘er done," Coffey kidded, hoping to relieve some of the tension that hung in the air, which was as thick as molasses. He motioned as if he was going to whip out his penis in the middle of the kitchen. "Not to worry, I've got great aim. Just hold her steady." "Mr. Coffey, any more of this nonsense and I'll have no option but to charge you with a positive test. Now please, where's your bathroom?" "On your way home, you ought to test that Anthony Mattura of the Empire. He juices so much he had it spurting out his ears every time I hit him yesterday." Coffey's jokes still had no effect on the piss taker as he escorted him to the bathroom.
Ellen couldn't help getting in another dig. "You know, you've got dog hair all over those rubber gloves. So much for your sterile little test. Sorry I'm not a better housekeeper."The piss taker looked at his hands and attempted to rub a dog hair or two off of the gloves and onto his pants as the two continued to the guest bathroom. Coffey closed the door behind them, but not before stealing a glance and wink at Ellen. There was very little room, given the bathroom's small confines and Coffey's huge bulk. "We've got to stop meeting like this." The piss taker ignored him and took charge of the situation. "Pull your shirt up to your chest and drop your drawers down past your knees before proceeding." Coffey attempted to tuck the bottom of his tee into the collar of his shirt several times before finally getting it to stay. He looked over at the piss taker, who stood impassively not two feet from him, holding the urine bottle and trying to look as official as possible. "Drop your pants and underwear down past your knees before proceeding." "What a way to make a living," Coffey thought as he complied, bending to push his Wrangler jeans over his large quadriceps and sore left knee. He stumbled awkwardly, then struggled to right himself, banging his calf against the toilet. The piss taker snapped off the plastic lid to the specimen jar and handed it to Coffey. "Proceed." Coffey held the jar under his penis with his left hand, grabbed himself with his right, and took a deep breath. Nothing happened. He looked over at the piss taker, who was intently staring at his penis and the specimen jar. Several more awkward moments passed. "Just relax. Sometimes it takes a while, given the awkward circumstances. I know this isn't easy for you." The piss taker was showing the first bit of compassion for Coffey's situation since his arrival. "If you would have showed up five minutes before, I could have filled you up a gallon jug." More awkward moments passed. Coffey finally conceded. "Look, this isn't going to happen right now. What do we do?" The piss taker sighed deeply and took the specimen jar from him, replacing the plastic top with a loud snap. "Pull up your pants and let's go out into the kitchen. Maybe some liquids will help. I must inform you that I must stay in your presence until a specimen is collected. Those are the rules."
Sound like fiction? Here, it is. But it's the truth. Embarrassing? Of course. Necessary? Absolutely.
Placing The Blame
Now don't get me wrong. There are plenty of professional athletes who would never even think of taking steroids or cheating in any way. As far as the rest of the collective group—the ones who have cheated or have considered cheating by using steroids—I want to take a moment to defend them.
Where does the blame lie for athletes who took performance-enhancing drugs in the past? It lies primarily with them, of course, but you must possess at least a shred of empathy for their situation.
First, there is society's collective distortion between what is acceptable and what isn't. An athlete gets shot up to numb the pain so he can go out and play. He gets injections to mask the effects of the pounding his body is taking. Doctors make him swallow pills to reduce swelling in his joints then knock him out with general anesthesia and surgically repair his body after the season so he can continue to perform in the next one. All of this is perfectly acceptable.
Add to this that our culture has turned into a drug culture. Not the recreational drug culture that existed in the sixties, but the pharmaceutical kind. There are drugs for practically everything, from curing acid reflux to putting lead back in your pencil and everything in between. Drugs are shoved down our throats by the media every day. Have high blood pressure? Your doctor will more likely prescribe a drug to control it than recommend you lose weight or modify your diet. Feeling anxious, sleepy, tense, irritable, disoriented? Take a pill.
The Strong Survive
To say professional athletes are under pressure to perform is a gross understatement. One man's great performance is another man's ticket out of the league. Every year, incredible athletic specimens show up and try and take another athlete's job. Freaks of nature compete against him every week during the season, trying to defeat him. Being paid millions or having zero prospects for success and prosperity is often a razor-thin line.
What about competition in the business world, you may ask? Business competition pales when compared to professional sports. It's not that there is no pressure or that it is any less competitive or important, it's just that the evaluation process takes longer. Quarterly reports, profit and loss statements, or other longer-term barometers are used to measure performance. A pro athlete is only as good as his last play. Evaluation is immediate and clear cut. You win or you lose. Nothing is as telling as a missed block, a dropped pass, or a blown assignment.
Former baseball slugger Mark McGuire
And taking steroids is a victimless crime. Shooting monkey testicle extract into your butt may not be the best thing for you in the long run, but at least you're not embezzling someone else's money or standing in the way of our country's democratic process.
What should we do about the past? Where do we go from here, now that the latest buzz from the baseball steroid scandal is starting to die down?
I say let's move onto other, more important matters, like Terrell's latest hissy fit or how the Lions will do next week. Let bygones be bygones. Mark McGuire's records are what they are, as are the allegations against him. Same with Barry Bonds. As for Lance Armstrong? He passed drug test after drug test for nearly a decade. I'm not going to let some dubious frozen urine sample from his distant past taint my admiration for him as an athlete. Palmero? Well, he's getting what his deserves.
Anabolic steroids are extremely dangerous, especially when in the hands of motivated, sometimes desperate men who will do practically anything for an edge up. Random drug testing in football and baseball is the best thing we could have ever done for these professional athletes, regardless of the extreme invasion of privacy. It's time to mandate testing for any professional sport where increased muscle mass and strength is deemed an advantage.
Boys will be boys. We have to save Man from himself.
Keith Dorney was chosen by the Detroit Lions in the first round (the tenth pick overall) of the 1979 NFL draft and played his entire professional career with them (1978-88). Dorney was the anchor of the Lions' offensive line that allowed Billy Simms to be ranked in the top five in the league in rushing yards three straight seasons (1980-82). Dorney was named to and played in the 1983 Pro Bowl, as well as receiving numerous All-NFC and All-Pro nods during his career. He also served as the team's offensive captain from 1983-1987.
Latest Work: Black and Honolulu Blue: In The
Trenches of the NFL
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