In the Lawrence Taylor case, Morality Police need to be heard

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Throw Lawrence Taylor out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame! And while we're at it, strip Reggie Bush of his Heisman Trophy and reconsider Brian Cushing as the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year.

It's been quite the week for the Morality Police, and much as it pains to say, they deserve to be heard.

Blanket conclusions are tempting but foolish, so let's go case-by-case.

Since his transgressions have occurred during retirement, Taylor is the most difficult to evaluate. A 1977 graduate of Williamsburg's Lafayette High, he is arguably the greatest linebacker in NFL history, but post-football, his headlines have been for all the wrong reasons: drugs, tax evasion and, just last week, a rape charge involving a 16-year-old runaway.

Natural reflexes say halls of fame are about an athlete's on-field performance and any extracurriculars — read: steroids, gambling, other suspensions — that affected his/her career. Enshrinement, they say, is forever.

But few things in life are forever — even Supreme Court justices can be removed from the bench. So if LT is convicted of rape, I wouldn't blame Hall officials for saying, "Enough! We no longer want to be associated with Mr. Taylor."

Yes, this would put the Hall on a treacherous slope, for many of its honorees are far from angelic. But so be it. Judge each situation on merit.

(To answer the obvious question: I wouldn't lose a nanosecond of sleep if the Hall booted O.J. Simpson.)

At the very least, make sure Taylor's Hall plaque details what a hash he's made of his life.

Bush and Cushing have more in common than University of Southern California football pedigree. Each appears to have cheated during an award-winning season.

Cushing, a Houston Texans linebacker, tested positive for a banned substance in 2009, his debut NFL season. An appeal recently denied, he's suspended for this year's first four games.

ESPN reports that Cushing's urine showed elevated levels of HCG, which is often taken to goose testosterone production after steroid use. But even before that detail emerged, the Associated Press ordered mulligan voting on last season's Defensive Rookie of the Year and All-Pro team.

Cushing won the rookie award in a 39-6 landslide over Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd and was second-team All-Pro. In the new balloting, Cushing retained the rookie honor, 18-13, and lost his All-Pro status.

But why revote? The AP simply should have stripped Cushing and given the award to Byrd.

Similarly, the Heisman Trophy Trust soon will have reason to void Bush's 2005 award and present the trophy to that year's runner-up, then-Texas quarterback Vince Young.

Later this week, the NCAA Committee on Infractions is expected to announce sanctions against USC and confirm allegations that Bush and his family received nearly $300,000 in cash and gifts from sports marketer Lloyd Lake between November 2004 and January 2006.

Lake sued Bush, but Yahoo! Sports reported last month that the parties settled out of court, sparing Bush the embarrassment of an under-oath deposition.

That settlement shouldn't spare him losing a trophy he won while cheating.

David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at dteel@dailypress.com. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime


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