Sports’ overindulgence an ‘icy hot’ topic

This past Valentine’s Day, the NFL felt obligated to ruin the mood for one of their own, announcing that Baltimore Ravens’ tackle James Hurst will be suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2020 regular season for violating league policy on performance-enhancing substances.

That news took the starch out of Cupid’s arrow. Looks like no Bon Bons in Hurst’s Whitman’s Sampler this year.

The same press release also indicated that Hurst is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games. Funny how you never see any NFL suspensions enforced during either training camp or preseason games.

If that were so, then most players would devote time in their offseason dabbling in virtually any substance referenced on the league’s “do not indulge” list in an effort to avoid the month-long drudgery of being sequestered in college dormitory rooms in the heat of summer to eat, sleep and drink football.

And what exactly qualifies as a performance-enhancing substance by NFL standards anyway? By definition, a sports drink enhances one’s performance. So does that pot of Seattle’s Best java that I manage to suck down each day before 9 a.m.

Shouldn’t 5-hour energy shots be on this list? I always felt packaging what amounts to liquid caffeine in Whippet-shaped containers, then making them available at the convenience store checkout counter was sheer marketing genius.

Let’s be honest: Those energy shots can’t possibly have the same effect on NFL defensive linemen as they would on those Nadia Comaneci-sized Olympic gymnasts.

One doesn’t have to watch those diminutive human dynamos sprint across the mat, vault eight feet in the air and execute a triple Lindy more than once to conclude those athletes’ gym totes likely had an empty energy shot canisters concealed in the side pouch.

Technically, non-drowsy liquid NyQuil qualifies as an energy drink since it serves the dual purpose of enhancing one’s ability to stay awake while staving off infection.

In my opinion, the people that should be endorsing these products are the fourth-year medical students or residents pulling 36-hour shifts at the local trauma center.

And don’t get me started on former White Sox slugger Frank Thomas and his Nugenix commercials.

The Big Hurt literally peddles that stuff cranking his stationary bike at full throttle like he’s being chased by an escaped Bengal tiger, sweating profusely while grinning ear to ear and explaining the newfound intensity of his workouts.

Those suggestive smiles from admiring females who recognize him in the coffee shop afterward are no doubt a subtle ploy to persuade any male over 50 to scrap their plans to procure mail order sildenifil and nab a case of Nugenix instead.

It’s evident that pro sports leagues don’t care what their former star athletes promote.

Clyde Frazier and Keith Hernandez make sure we all get the color of our facial hair just right while Joe Montana and Howie Long hawk relaxed fit Sketchers.

Shaquille O’Neal probably has to use an entire jar of Icy Hot to cover his enormous frame while Joe Namath assures octogenarians they can’t possibly be taking full advantage of their Medicare coverage.

Why? Because he “guarantees” it.

Hurst should appeal the terms of his suspension and insist it begin immediately rather than being forced to endure another year of OTAs and training camp.

Bill Contz was a starting offensive tackle on Penn State’s first national championship football team in 1982 and went on to play six seasons in the NFL with New Orleans and Cleveland. Contz published a book in 2017, “When the Lions Roared: Joe Paterno and One of College Football’s Greatest Teams.” He resides in Pittsburgh and winters in Arizona.


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