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The Butler Did It

While former slugger Mark McGwire danced around the subject and Sammy Sosa needed an interpreter - who just happened to be a lawyer - because he suddenly struggled with the English language, the Holy Cross and St. Francis Prep football teams spent their Saturday afternoon learning how to get bigger and stronger without the use of steroids.The legendary opponents met at Gridiron, Inc., a high intensity training studio on Northern Boulevard and put their rivalry aside for the importance of the message. They were brought together by Rich Carroll and Frank Savino, who played against each other in high school and college and now are assistant coaches at the longtime rivals."The feedback from the kids was phenomenal," Carroll said. "Frank and I butted heads for 20 years now, but we worked together."They listened to Dr. Ken Leistner, who designs workout programs for professional and high-end college players, and Cynthia Conde, a nutritionist who talked about supplements. Instead of just preaching that steroids are bad, they offered an alternative to high school athletes who are looking to get bigger and stronger.Holy Cross head coach Tom Pugh doesn't need to watch congressional hearings or read books to know the effects of steroids. That's because he's dealt with it on a very personal level. When he was at Emporia State in Kansas, Pugh's college roommate was Al Feurbach, who set the world record in the shot put in 1973. He died from complications of years of steroid use, Pugh said.Pugh lives in the same Five Towns area of Nassau County that the late former football star Lyle Alzado hails from. Alzado was one of the best defensive players ever but died at 42 from brain cancer. The two-time All-Pro defensive end lectured about the dangers of steroids until the day he died."I think it's a bigger problem that we'd like to admit," Pugh said. "All high school coaches should be concerned."Pugh said the CHSFL is looking into some form of drug testing. Currently Texas and Florida test high school athletes for steroids."I'm not against it," he said. "It may be needed."Last Thursday McGwire didn't talk about drug testing. In fact he didn't speak about much. He did say he'd love to be a national spokesman against steroids, yet he dodged every question pitched his way. He wept when he read his opening statement but said, "I'm retired," and "I'm not here to talk about the past," when any question about steroids came his way.Big Mac was a big joke, the leader of what was a three-ring circus. Sosa's English is good enough when he's given millions of dollars to pitch a product, but when he's asked to testify in front of Congress, suddenly it's "Yo no comprendo."As Yankees fans have said on talk radio since he donned a Red Sox jersey, Curt Shilling blew nothing but hot air. The Sox hurler was chosen to chair a committee about steroids in part because he's so outspoken against the drug. But Schilling backtracked and said that his previous statements about 'roids was "grossly overstated." Rafael Palmeiro looked like one of those WWF wrestlers of old when interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund, pointing an angry finger at the committee, staring straight at the camera and strongly stating, "I have never taken steroids. Period." Although compared to those around him, the Viagra spokesman held up the best.Frank Thomas couldn't fly to Washington because it seems that he has a sprained ankle. I'm not sure how that stops you from getting on a plane, but OK. Instead he made his opening statement from Tucson, Ariz. via a video conference hookup and then sat there, never answering one question from the committee.Jose Canseco was blasted by the other players; Schilling called him a "liar," and it seems one of the few things McGwire was willing to say was that "you have to consider the source," referring to Canseco's book. But even Jose came out clean compared to Sosa, McGwire and Schilling.One of the few things they could agree on was that education was needed. Too bad they weren't at Gridiron, Inc. Saturday, they could have learned a thing or two.Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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