Texans linebacker Brian Cushing made his first public appearance with the media today since being suspended for four games by the NFL last Friday.
By my quick count, there were at least 25 reporters there in the Texans' auditorium for the press conference, including just about every single Houston print, radio and TV reporter and at least one national writer, Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com/Sirius NFL Radio.
Cushing began the press conference with a brief prepared statement.
"I denied then and continue now that I ever took a substance banned by the NFL," Cushing said, referencing a **statement that he issued on Saturday** in which he said he tested positive for a "non-steroidal" banned substance.
Cushing says he did test positive for hCG, human chorionic gonadotrophin, but he's not sure how it got into his body. He said he was told the substance can show up if he had injected himself with it or if he had a tumor. Since he knew that he wasn't injecting himself with anything, Cushing said that he played the 2009 season thinking he had a tumor and that it might be the last year of his career.
Cushing said more than once that he did not ingest or inject anything illegal.
"I would never do anything to cheat this game," he said, adding that he only uses legal supplements that he's very careful about putting into his body.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak, general manager Rick Smith, linebackers coach Johnny Holland and linebacker DeMeco Ryans all were seated in the front row of the press conference to support Cushing.
After Cushing spoke to the media for about 10 minutes, Ryans went up to the podium to answer several questions.
"Yeah, I believe him," Ryans said. "Cushing is a hard working guy. There's nobody that works as hard as he does. I don't think he would cheat the game."
Check back with us for plenty more to come shortly on HoustonTexans.com.