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'Merriman Rule' comes one year too late for NFL
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I am completely baffled at the moment, so I'm hoping to enter into a much less ambiguous frame of mind by the end of this column.

A new policy will be enforced by the NFL next year banning players who test positive for substance abuse from the Pro Bowl.

So, what's my fracas? The pronouncement is coming 365 days too late.

It should be imposed immediately; after all, Shawne Merriman is the reason that commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw have agreed on the ruling.

The San Diego Chargers' linebacker failed a drug analysis earlier this season, testing positive for steroids. Merriman served a four-game suspension during Week 9 - Week 12; four games in which his team won all of them.

His reward? An all-expenses paid trip to Honolulu to play in the 2007 Pro Bowl. Not to mention any bonuses and other incentives he will receive for being selected to the team.

Ironically, this new ruling comes in the week Merriman is to start in Saturday's Pro Bowl, representing the AFC.

The National Football League is sending the wrong message; it needs to act now rather than later.

Merriman is getting rewarded for cheating. Plain and simple.

I'd be furious if I were outside linebacker Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens. Suggs is the only reserve at the position representing the AFC. Unfortunately, Suggs will not be starting, rather Merriman the Cheater instead.

And how about the other AFC linebackers who enjoyed a good season, yet who will be watching the game from home?

Merriman has denied any allegations that he is a cheater, despite what test results show and prove, for that matter. Not only is he a cheater, but a liar as well.

His numbers don't lie, though. In fact, they are staggering: 63 total tackles and 17 sacks in 12 games played. Problem is which plays did he make with the drugs in his system and which were made without?

I commend the NFL for taking the necessary steps in handling this situation. However, I do not applaud it for operating like a snail.