All hail Brian Cushing. He has become history's first two-time rookie of the year.
Yeah, that'll teach him to cheat.
Thanks to a bad idea and a national panel of voters who recognized the folly in front of them, Cushing was able to resist a coup and hang onto his trophy Wednesday afternoon. Boolah, as they say. And furthermore, boolah.
Of course, this time, the vote was not really about Cushing, and it wasn't really about rookies, and it wasn't remotely about justice. It was just a silly idea that no one stepped on before it turned embarrassing.
In essence, it was a vote against revoting. Simple as that.
For goodness' sake, don't think of this as a validation of Cushing. I suspect that if the NFL wanted to make the Texans linebacker wear funny pants on Sunday, it would be all right with the voters. They could have him wear those enormous MC Hammer balloon pants as part of his uniform, with the words "I'm a lunkhead who tested positive'' embroidered on the butt, and they would get no protest from anyone.
When it comes to Cushing, and the other cheaters of pro sports, most of us are slap out of sympathy. Hang him upside down from the goalposts during the four games he will be suspended, and we will applaud. Make him sing I'm a Little Teapot at Roger Goodell's next garden party, and we will laugh.
But strip away the guy's rookie of the year award?
You're kidding, right?
Say this for the Associated Press, the organization that wanted the mulligan over last year's voting: Its intentions were good. It's just that the goal — basically, to turn back time — was out of whack from the start. Cushing played the season. He won the defensive rookie of the year award. As they say, you can look it up.
Sorry, but this isn't a video game where you can hit "reset.'' You don't get a do-over. As every time-travel story tells us, you don't get to change history.
Again, I understand the motives here. Cushing got an award, and he cheated, and so he shouldn't have gotten the award. In the interest of fairness, AP was willing to Milli his Vanilli.
So what's next? Does AP now push for a best three-of-five vote? A best four-of-seven?
Sorry, but life doesn't work that way. Awards don't, either. If the NFL doesn't want cheaters to win its trophies, then it's up to the league to catch them before the voting occurs. You don't get to take a vat of Wite-Out to the award and cover up Cushing's name as if nothing happened.
You know the awful thing here? Before the AP started waving its Lady Justice statuette around, not one fan in a hundred had any idea Cushing had won this award. They know now. Not only did AP become the story, it allowed Cushing to get twice the headlines. Just wondering: Does Cushing get another trophy for winning again?
Hey, if the AP wants to go around changing history, they've got a full day's work ahead. The rest of us, too.
Already, there have been suggestions that the Pro Football Hall of Fame should toss out Lawrence Taylor, who is accused of rape. Maybe it could auction off Taylor's bust to raise money for charity. Maybe Joe Theismann would buy it … for revenge if nothing else.
The reconsidering of Taylor is as silly as the revoting for Cushing. Taylor was a great player, and a great tragic figure, during his days with the Giants. Yeah, he's a Hall of Famer.
Now, when it comes to Hall of Fame exhibits, I'm all for full disclosure. Depending on how Taylor's trial goes, I think the Hall of Fame should make that part of the exhibit. Same goes for O.J. Simpson. Same goes for Paul Hornung, who missed a season after being suspended by the league for gambling. And Carl Eller, who had an incident where he fought police. Heck, you can even mention that Joe Namath wanted to kiss Suzy Kolber if you want.
But throw the players out of the hall? No. It isn't a church. It's a museum. Even Al Davis gets to stay.
To be honest, I feel the same way about Pete Rose, too. Let the voters vote. And if Rose makes it into the Hall of Fame, make sure his exhibit includes the betting slips from his gambling days as a manager.
And if the voters don't vote him in? Fine. That's the thing, though. Once the vote is in, the results count.
What's next? Is the AP going to try to redo the 2005 rookie of the year voting when Shawne Merriman (who later tested positive for steroids) won? Or the 2002 voting when Julius Peppers (who later tested positive for steroids) won? Oh, guess who else won the rookie of the year in 2004? Ben Roethlisberger. Let's take his trophy, too, on account of how creepy he is.
Let's see. Let's take the 1959 Heisman Trophy away from Billy Cannon because Cannon later served time for counterfeiting. How are we to know a phony $7 bill didn't pay for his lunch the day of the title game?
Let's take the Heisman away from George Rogers and Ricky Williams because they later did drugs. Let's take it away from Reggie Bush because of the suspected NCAA violations when he was at USC. And while we're at it, let's take the one away that Charles Woodson won over Peyton Manning because, looking back, Manning was simply the better player.
What else? Let's take away Denny McLain's 1968 American League MVP award. After all, he went to prison for racketeering. Let's take away Jose Canseco's rookie of the year award in 1986 because, as we all know, he grew up to be the pied piper of steroid use. Let's take the rookie awards away from Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, too.
And while we're repossessing trophies here, let's strip Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez of their MVPs and Roger Clemens and Eric Gagne of their Cy Youngs. All of those guys were connected with performance-enhancing drugs.
Just asking here, but did Maurice Clarett of Ohio State and the Toledo Correctional Institution (armed robbery) get a wristwatch for the 2002 national title game? A ring, maybe. Let's get that back. Pronto.
Let's take back Tiger Woods' sportsman of the year honors, because sportsmen shouldn't commit adultery. Let's take back Mike Tyson's belts. Let's take back the titles Andre Agassi won while doing crystal meth.
Not only that, but let's melt down Mel Gibson's Academy Award. I want Hugh Grant's Golden Globe. Frankly, I want the entire Warren Harding presidency back. Harding was so bad, historians point out, he didn't even win the rookie of the year award.
Look, what's the statute of limitations on this notion of revoting? Do you have to catch the guy in a year? In two years? In 10? Who decides if a transgression is serious enough for a do-over? Who decides when the voting is final?
Revoting? It's a revolting idea.
On the other hand, NFL players should take heart. They still have time to win the NFL's man of the year voting … for 1998.
After all, that was the year Eugene Robinson won it.