There is an unspoken problem in the NFL that many fans, players, GMs, owners, and even league officials are scared to discuss. The rabid use of PEDs throughout the league is tarnishing the game’s integrity.

How can the league overlook this issue? Very easily, in fact, since the NFL has created an environment of cheating.

This problem began on July 25, 2011, the NFL and the NFLPA ended their five-month dispute and emerged with a new collective bargaining agreement.

This included a 301-page document which became the league’s new constitution. It settled myriad financial disputes and initiated, or at least appeared to initiate, a progression in player safety.

Outcomes included, the reduced rookie pay scale and significant regulations placed on practices including the restriction of two-a-day practices. Additionally, the NFLPA gained a 47 percent share of the total revenue generated by the NFL

The on-the-field softening was not to the detriment of the NFL’s popularity; fans and media swallowed the insufferable amounts of concussion awareness and the increased enforcement on aggressive tackles, dismissing both as necessary casualties for the greater good of the sport.

By deflecting the public’s attention towards the player-safety improvements of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the NFL has unscrupulously, albeit successfully, thrown a veil over their infectious drug problem.

Even though, the NFL and the NFLPA condemned the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in the CBA.

But the NFL has faced this problem before, however the players aren’t just taking synthetic-testosterone (HGH); they have expanded their use with PEDs such as Adderall and deer antler supplements.

The most famous instance of a player using this deer antler supplement is Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker, Ray Lewis, who used the substance to recover from a torn tricep.

The NFL has a legitimate issue, even one that some people consider more severe than the one in the MLB (Major League Baseball).

“Contrary to popular belief, PED use is much more prevalent in the NFL than the MLB, said Jacob Covington (12) an all Baltimore-County defensive end.

“About half the league takes it…,” said Richard Sherman, an all-pro cornerback on the Seattle Seahawks.

The Seattle Seahawks has had multiple players suspended for PED use, including Sherman and most recently, starting safety, Brandon Browner.

In an ESPN Magazine interview Sherman was asked if the Seahawks had a PED problem, and he said that it did seem that way.

At least 27 players in the NFL have been suspended for a game or multiple games for PED uses.

Clearly, anyone can see that PEDs are corrupting the league.

“The NFL is all about being bigger, faster, and stronger. And for some players, PEDs are the only way they can have the opportunity to play at such a high level, said Connor Williams (12) an all-Baltimore County linebacker. “I think at least a quarter of the players in the NFL use PED’s or some kind of banned substances.”

Even if a quarter of NFL players use PEDs, that is still a serious problem for the game. Not only does it undermine the credibility of the game, but it’s cheating the fans.

“Steroid use is not as prevalent as it once was in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Players have found new ways to increase their performance, said health teacher Ric Evans. “People will always find a way to cheat, which supports how players are not just using steroids to enhance their play.”

The bottom line is that the NFL has a serious problem and the league, coaches, and especially the players have a responsibility to solve this problem before the legitimacy of the league is tarnished. How can we accept this problem as reality? It is our duty as athletes and concerned citizens to combat these problems.

The larger problem lies within a “trickle-down” effect will occur and impact high school and college athletes. How far can we let this PED problem expand? Eventually, the majority of athletes will feel pressured to use these drugs in order to compete in their respective sport.