The Commish Online                                                                                
Tip of the Iceberg? Alleged THG use by Four Raiders
November 17, 2003
by Ward Lowe

Bill Romanowski uses steroids? I’m shocked. I always heard he was a “a fiery competitor” as he took cheap shots at anyone he could, spit in opponents’ faces, and broke a teammate’s orbital bone in practice. Who knew that the tackle box of pills and powders he carries everywhere he goes might contain something illegal?

A report on CBS’s Sunday pregame show, “The NFL Today,” alleged that linebacker Romanowski and three other Oakland Raiders tested positive for the newly discovered steroid THG, or tetrahydrogestrinone, and will face four-game suspensions. Center Barret Robbins, defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield, and defensive tackle Chris Cooper were also named in the report.

Whether or not the report turns out to be 100% true, it may be the start of a long list of athletes in the news for using illegal means to further their careers. Federal authorities previously subpoenaed all four Raiders as part of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) investigation, an IRS probe linked to a potentially explosive scandal involving performance-enhancing drugs.

Prominent athletes from other sports, including baseball and track and field, have also been called to testify. The doping allegations against BALCO, if proven true, could rock the public’s already shaky trust in athletes and their achievements.

On that cheery note, let’s talk about Week 11.

Injured Buffalo can’t score
Drew Bledsoe and his Buffalo Bills “offense” haven’t scored a touchdown in three straight games. Coincidentally, the Bills have lost the last three games. I’m sure the fine Buffalo coaching staff also noticed this weird correlation, but the team may not have enough healthy bodies to rectify the situation.

Primary receiver Eric Moulds missed the game with a groin injury and is listed as questionable for next Sunday, and starting running back Travis Henry cracked a fibula late in the first half against the Texans. Despite the injury, Henry returned in the third quarter and finished the game with 23 carries and 149 yards, 10 carries and 34 yards coming after the injury. An amazing performance, but Henry can’t be expected to play on a broken leg. Unless Bledsoe gets some help, look for the Bills (4-6) to sink out of the AFC wild-card picture

Bill vs. Bill
The superb defenses of the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys produced a yawner in the much-hyped Parcells-Belichick face off. The student got the better of his teacher as the Patriots shut out the ‘Boys 12-0 on the strength of three Quincy Carter-thrown interceptions and kicker Adam Vinatieri’s steady leg.

The Patriots pushed their record to 8-2 and now have a two-game lead over Miami in the AFC East. Dallas (7-3) dropped to a first-place tie in the NFC East with Philadelphia. I think I can hear Parcells screaming from here.

Kansas City goes down
Much to the delight of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only undefeated team in NFL history, the Cincinnati Bengals ended the perfect run of the Kansas City Chiefs.

I don’t know if they still do this, but I read that in past seasons when someone threatened their record, those’72 Dolphins got together and rooted for the undefeated team to lose. Players from that team cling to the record like it’s all they have to live for. That’s nice sportsmanship, guys. Live in the past. Hasn’t anything else happened in your lives during the last 31 years?

Cincinnati (5-5) stunned the Chiefs (9-1) and moved into a first-place tie with Baltimore in the AFC North. It’s the first time the Bengals have been in first place in any division since 1990. Back then, the ’72 Dolphins had been pathetic for only 18 years.

Stick a fork in Tampa Bay
The 2003 Super Bowl champions are all done. Last season’s Tampa Bay team owned a superb defense that never would have allowed Green Bay to pick up a first down late in the fourth quarter on a fourth-and-one from the Tampa 16. The Packers (5-5) went on to score the winning touchdown and continue their pursuit of back-pedaling Minnesota (6-4) in the NFC North. Tampa now sits at 4-6.

Say goodnight, coach Gruden. Enjoy your early vacation.

Last week's From The Armchair

Ward Lowe is a writer and editor in Austin, Texas, who believes that 2004 will be The Year for his beloved Boston Red Sox. You can reach him at