Yes, of course, many of us want to believe Andrew Harris when he honest-to-gosh, cross-my-heart swears he didn’t swallow a dirty pill.
That’s because Harris is one of the good guys.
And, because he’s one of the good guys, he can’t possibly be dumb enough to stick a needle in his butt, coat himself with an iffy kind of cream, or pop a pill called Metandienone to make his 32-year-old body perform like a 22-year-old body.
It’s the other guys who do the cheating.
Except Harris, the Canadian Football League’s leading ground gobbler, has been found guilty of being stupid enough to do that very thing. Drug cheat. Guilty as charged. And sentenced.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers tailback has been told to go away for two games and, no, I don’t wear tin foil on my head so any notion of some cockeyed conspiracy contrived on the Flattest of Lands is straight out of the Rod Serling playbook.
I mean, if you’re among the Tin Foilers who actually believe that the Harris suspension is the end result of a plot to give the Saskatchewan Roughriders a leg up on the Bombers, then I have some ocean-front property with a Rocky Mountain vista at The Forks that you might be interested in. And while we’re at it, how would you like to buy shares in the Redwood Bridge?
Naturally Winnipeg FC will miss Harris in the home-and-home, Labor Day week dosey doe with Gang Green beginning Sunday, but come on. The fix is in? Sure. Zapruder film at 11.
Look, this isn’t about two points or four points, or clinging to first place or falling out of first place in the West Division.
It’s about Andrew Harris, the person, the guy who now must convince people, including his daughter, that he isn’t a drug cheat. That he bought a supplement at a natural health store and somehow Metandienone found its way into the mix.
“I pride myself on being a great role model to my daughter, youth, my peers,” he told an assembly of very attentive news snoops on Monday morning.
“I would never intentionally cheat and I’m in a situation now where I’m being questioned and it hurts.”
Cue the eye-rolling, because that’s what they all say, right? A-Rod said it. Mark McGwire said it. Roger Clemens said it while “misremembering” all the needles he stuck in his caboose. Barry Bonds still says it, even though his head has shrunk from the size of a prize pumpkin at the country fair to something that more closely resembles a five-pin bowling ball. Ben Johnson…Lance Armstrong…Marion Jones…Manny Ramirez…Julius Peppers…nope, didn’t do it. Pete Rose…nope, never bet on his own baseball beam.
We didn’t believe any of them, so why should we believe Andrew Harris?
Because, like I said, he’s one of the good guys. A local kid who just 12 days ago stamped his place in Rouge Football folklore by becoming the career yardage leader among all homebrews who’ve ever taken a handoff or caught a pass in the CFL.
We don’t want his line in the record book for most real estate gained to read: Andrew Harris, 13,481* yards.
Roger Maris didn’t deserve an asterisk in 1961 just because he had the (apparent) bad manners to swat more dingers in a season than the Bambino, Babe Ruth, and Harris doesn’t deserve an asterisk in 2019 if there was something fishy with his supplement and it showed up when he peed in a bottle.
“All natural, got it from a natural health store, and here I am,” he quietly assured the gathering of those with quill and microphone.
Harris also called his misadventure “some bad luck” and had to collect himself when the matter of legacy and his record-breaking performance vs. the B.C. Lions was mentioned. Some of us wondered why he lost it emotionally on the sidelines that night, weeping as teammates stepped forward to embrace him.
Now we have our answer. Harris already knew about the two positive tests by then, and he knew his day of reckoning was nigh.
“It took away from something that was really great. It was very difficult and…” he said, then bowed his head and buried his face in his right hand.
A lot of people will think of it as an act, just as they did with A-Rod and that bunch of denying needle-pushers who refused to ‘fess up until there was no way of climbing out of the rabbit hole. They’ll note the uncommon things Harris is accomplishing when most running back’s bodies are falling apart like a witness during a Perry Mason cross-examination. They’ll view his records as ill-gotten plunder. Rancid fruit.
Well, I’ve never met Andrew Harris. Probably never will. But, damnit, I hope like hell someone wearing a lab coat made a mistake.
It doesn’t look that way, though. Such a shame.