Texans linebacker Brian Cushing met with the media on Thursday during a 1 p.m. CT press conference at Reliant Stadium to discuss his recent four-game suspension from the NFL. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans also addressed the media about Cushing's situation.
Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing
(opening statement) "I'm Brian Cushing, and I would like to thank you guys for the first opportunity to publicly address my suspension by the NFL and its denial of my appeal. Whatever you choose to write about me, please do write that I'm very proud to be a linebacker of the Houston Texans, very honored to be the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year, and very anxious to get on the Reliant field Oct. 10 against the New York Giants.
"Since being suspended by the league for a non-steroidal banned substance, I denied then and continue now that I ever took a substance banned by the National Football League. I appealed the decision, and in that process presented significant medical and scientific data challenging the league's determination that the banned substance was present by ingestion and was not naturally incurring. I want to make it known that I did not inject or ingest any illegal substances that would enhance my performance. My only option was to appeal the decision to the very entity that also was the deciding factor.
"Knowing I did not do anything wrong, I have medical concerns about the test and how low the levels were that produced a positive test. Bound by the decision of the league, I regret the decision it presents to the Texans organization, my teammates, the fans and my family. My dedication to a championship season in 2010 continues undeterred."
(on the substance he tested positive for and how it got into his body) "The substance was hCG. The question of how it got into my body is still unclear. It's something I'm very personally concerned about, just the fact of how it's there and what's going to deter it from happening again. And that's something that we're going to have to medically investigate."
(on the test and when he was notified) "The test was in September. I was notified in October."
(on if he was given any reasons for the lag in the process) "I think it's just part of the testing procedure and the labs that get back the results."
(on how he feels about entire situation and the speculation that has come out) "It's unfortunate. It's unfortunate how certain people perceive some things. It's unfortunate that with 23 years of hard work, it's something that people just want to take this away like this. It's unfortunate, but I have to respect the process of the NFL and what they're doing."
(on why he previously said that he was stunned by the league's decision) "I was stunned basically because of the scientific and medical data that we had backing it up. And I felt that knowing that I did not ingest or inject anything at all, the fact that how this got into my body why this was taking place, that's why I was confused. "
(on how people are to believe he had a banned substance in his body and he doesn't know how it got there) "Well, that's how they're going to believe it. There are certain different ways. There are a lot of different options for how it can get into a male's body. Personally, I know that I didn't ingest or inject anything, and the fact that my options were that I was either injecting or I had a tumor, as I was told by some sources, I played the whole season thinking I had tumors. So that's how I feel."
(on if he plans to take any action against league for the test) "No, not any action against the league. Right now, I'm concerned about myself. I'm concerned about my health, and that's the most important thing right now. I have to take care of my situation and find out why this is happening from a health standpoint and also from a prevention standpoint that it doesn't happen again."
(on the toughest part about the whole situation) "You know, the two toughest parts about the situation are my health and my reputation. I'm obviously concerned every single day and why is this happening and why something like this would keep re-occurring. And on top of it is the reputation. I wouldn't do anything to deface the National Football League or the game of football. I've played it my whole life and it's just opened a whole different door to me as far as a respect standpoint and my life in general. I would never do anything to cheat this game, and that's the perception factor that really hurts me is when people think that that's something that I would do."
(on what kind of supplements he does take) "Pretty much all standard supplements that are approved by the organization. General things such as proteins, amino acids, natural things that I put in my body that I'm very careful about.
(on if the Texans oversee everything that he puts into his body) "Yes, exactly."
(on rumors going back to his college career and if he can see how the talk will ramp up again now) "Of course. Any time something like this (happens), people will say, 'I told you so,' or 'there it is' and stuff like that, and it's unfortunate. But you look at the college track record, there's nothing there. You look at the rest of the season, there's nothing there. And it's just the fact that there's one kind of certain thing in there that it's such a low level that it wouldn't even be performance-enhancing."
(on finding out who's in your corner when you go through a situation like this) "You're right. You do find out about people who are supporting you and who's in your corner. I feel that Jay was in a tough situation, he really was, between his company, him and Randy (Couture). I respect Jay, and he said the things he did, he needed to protect himself, but we're past that."
(on if he's changed anything about his workout routine that made it so he didn't test positive in later tests) "Nothing has changed with my workout or ethic. Everything's been the same. Everything's been the same for the past 10, 15 years. That's something that's not going to change. The reason why it didn't happen, we're unclear about. And that's what we have to find out and that's what we have to prevent in the future."
(on how he will figure out the presence of the substance in his body) "With the medical background. There's going to be certain tests that are going to be performed and certain things that we need to do."
(on being told the positive results could come from a tumor) "Basically when everything first came out, I was completely unfamiliar with the hCG and what I was told was that the only way it can get into your body, and obviously everyone having their different opinions, was that it was either through injection or through a tumor. I personally know I'm not injecting myself with anything. And then I'm playing the whole season thinking this could not only be my last season, but my last year."
(on the people who suggest he will always have a stigma) "I think that they thought that about me before. I think that that's something I can't change and that's unfortunate. But, you know what? Nothing's going to be different. It's going to be the same production next year and the same production the year after. People can think what they want, that's why it's America, that's why it's a free country, but nothing's going to change about me."
(on suggestions that he should give the AP Rookie of the Year Award back) "Why? I know I didn't do anything. I earned that award. I did everything I could. I was disappointed with the revote but I have to respect the process, again. But no, I would never. I know what I did."
(on if he's upset that this takes the spotlight away from the Texans being on the rise as a team) "Like in my statement, that's the thing I'm regretful about is the fact that it's taking away from the Texans organization. That's not going to change our goal, that's not going to change our achievements. We're going full speed ahead towards a championship."
(on if he is still testing positive for hCG and why he waited until now to address the media) "With the hCG, I haven't really been tested recently so I can't tell you. But like I said, with the medical evidence that we're about to back up, we can find out. As far as when I released this (a statement), I released this Saturday. I released a statement Saturday, got it out as fast as I possibly could. And then the last two days I was at my aunt's funeral, so I don't know what I can do."
(on if he's finished with the legal process with the League) "Yes, the attention is towards the concern of myself right now, and why this is happening. There's nothing more from the injection standpoint, anything you can do. The rule is the rule, I respect that, I respect the NFL and what they're trying to do. But as far as the next step, it's going to be OTAs and finding out what's going on with me internally."
Houston Texans LB DeMeco Ryans
(on the difficulty of helping fellow LB Brian Cushing through this process and knowing they'll play without him for four games) "It's definitely going to be tough for us, missing a great player for four games. He brought a lot to our defense, so we're going to miss him. We're definitely going to miss him. But guys have to step up. It's just like if anyone got injured on this team, the next man, his number's called, he has to step up and come in and play well for us. And going through this situation with Cushing, it's been difficult on him. So for me, it's just giving him advice: just face it and do what you have to do, but learn from it and move on. That's the biggest thing that I had to tell him."
(on if he believes Cushing) "Oh yeah, I believe him. Cushing is a hard working guy. There's nobody that works as hard as Cush and is as competitive as he is. I don't think that he would cheat the game, the way that people call him a cheater, and I don't think that Cushing is that type of person."
(on if he was shocked by the news) "Everyone was shocked. Just like, you know, you hear that news and everyone is shocked. I'm at home for the weekend, that news pops up—it's like, 'Wow. We're going to be missing Cushing for four games.' But the first thought is, hopefully he is ok, health-wise."
(on if a four-game suspension is a tough enough penalty for using performance-enhancing drugs) "I think it's pretty strict enough for those guys. Guys need to understand the risk that they're putting on their bodies as opposed to whether it's escalating your contract or getting that money—how is this going to affect you in the long term? Money will be ok but your health is the most important thing that you have. So I wish no guys would take that approach and say, 'We'll take the four-game suspension and just deal with it.' I hope no one thinks like that."
(on if Cushing's winning the AP Rookie of the Year Award revote validates his on-field performance) "It was very important for him, it was a huge award and I was happy for him that he got it again. And he deserved it. Of course he was the best rookie defensive player there was and he went out and proved that. And coming in this year after he's off those four games, I don't see any drop off on what Cushing is going to bring to us. So you'll see that same level of play, that same intensity when he comes back next year."
(on what it was like watching Cushing hold the press conference) "I know it's tough on him. Those are some tough questions, but you have to face it. They tell us, you know, you have to be responsible for whatever you put in your body so you have to take the heat that comes with it."
(on how the defense will deal with Cushing's absence) "It can't be hard on us. We've got to move on. We can't take a step back and we can't press the panic button just because Cushing isn't here. We're still moving on and our goals don't change. We're here to win football games and win championships. So down one player or however many players, goals are not going to change."
(on the difference between abusing illegal drugs like cocaine and using performance enhancers, and if he feels they should be separate categories) "I think those are two different things, and there are two different rules according to that. Because there are two different tests for those. There's a substance of abuse test and there's a performance enhancer test. So under that, there's different penalties for both of those."
(on if he and Cushing were close last year) "Oh yeah, we're still tight."
(on if Cushing mentioned anything about possible tumors during the season) "No, I didn't know anything about tumors. I know he had a lot going on with his health, but I didn't know about the tumors."
(on if there's an ounce of skepticism in his body about any of this) "I don't get skeptical with it. I think, like I said earlier, guys have to be responsible with it, and it's big of Cushing to come up here and face the facts because you see a lot of guys that get the four-game suspension and then you never hear anything else about it. So I thought it was big of him to come out here and face the questions from you guys today, and you know it was a tough situation for him to come up and do that. It was big of him."
(on how quickly he tried to reach out to Cushing and the rest of the linebackers after hearing of the suspension) "Oh, I tried to reach out to Brian the day that I heard it, but just like anyone else getting that news, I knew his phone was going crazy and he had a lot on his plate to deal with at that time so I understood that it was going to be tough for him to get back with me."
(on what resources and expertise the NFL provides to make sure that players don't suffer the unintended consequences of ingesting something they say they never did via supplements or whatever their diet might be) "I think, what with whatever you take, you know we have a great nutritionist who's here, Roberta Anding, and she tells us all of the time, whatever you take bring it to them and they can test out whatever you're taking and make sure that nothing is in there that's on the banned substance list. So, we have great resources here that check everything out, so for the most part, everything should be pretty clean if you go through the proper resources, proper steps and let Roberta check it out."
(on if he thinks the long lag time between the test and the appeal needs to be looked into in the NFLPA or the NFL) "Well it depends. I know they took more tests, so it depends on if those tests after that, did they come up positive also? We don't know that, so other than that one positive test, he tested clean throughout the rest of the year. So I think it was fine."
(on if he thinks guys who get caught cheating or are suspended should be eligible for awards) "No, if it's found out that you're cheating, I don't think you should be eligible for an award because you're gaining a true competitive advantage by cheating. Let's all face it. You don't want a game full of cheaters, you want the game to be played clean. It's a fun game, so why mess the game up by cheating?"
(on the prospect of doing all the right things and going through the proper channels and still testing positive) "It is difficult. Hearing him say that he went through all those steps and still get a positive test, that's real tough. But I don't take anything; I just go out and play. It's tough. Whatever guys want to do, like I said, you still just have to be responsible and you have to be man enough to take whatever comes with whatever you take."