The news that Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert is out for the next four games came across this afternoon with the softness of a sledgehammer. According to the NFL, Gilbert violated the league’s substance abuse policy when he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug or PED.
Gilbert tweeted an apology but didn’t exactly take ownership of his transgression in my opinion.
— Marcus Gilbert (@MarcusGilbert88) November 20, 2017
In all fairness to Gilbert, this may very well have been a mistake on his part. These things do happen and I, like all of you, have to accept that. What is difficult to accept is how Gilbert or any other player for that matter could mistakenly put something into their body. They know how specific and how specialized things are these days and I just have a hard time buying the “inadvertently” part of his apology.
NFL players know that even something as simple and mundane as your basic cold medicine could have a substance that is banned in it. Being careful isn’t enough; players have to be downright paranoid about it or this is what happens.
On the football side of things, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Steelers have pulled away from the AFC North field and are neck and neck with New England for the number one seed. Over the next four games, Pittsburgh will be without Gilbert against the Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and then the Patriots in a game that will no doubt decide home-field advantage.
Chris Hubbard has done a gone job in previous games where he had to replace Gilbert but he doesn’t posses the overall ability or athleticism that Gilbert has. That limits what Todd Haley can call and limits what he can do with personnel because Hubbard will certainly need help in some pass-blocking situations. Mike Tomlin will no doubt address this in his press conference on Tuesday but you know as well as I do he won’t make excuses. He isn’t the one who has to and sadly Gilbert shouldn’t be either had he been a little more cautious.
There’s never a good time for these things but this one appears to have come at one of the worst.