PITTSBURGH -- New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett says he used steroids when he starred as a linebacker in the early 1980s, and claims the Pittsburgh Steelers' use of the drugs during Super Bowl championship seasons in the 1970s brought steroids into vogue around the NFL.
Haslett said Thursday that when he played in the NFL, steroid use was rampant because the league had no policy banning such drugs. The NFL has since attacked the problem, he said.
"That's because it wasn't illegal then," Haslett said. "That was my point. You had so many people using them because they were legal. I talked about it to show how far our league has come. We have the best policy anywhere on steroids."
Haslett, the Steelers' defensive coordinator from 1997-99, made his initial remarks about his own steroid use and his accusations against the Steelers on Wednesday in Hawaii, where the league was holding its annual meeting. They were published in Thursday's editions of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Los Angeles Times.
Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who ran the team during the 1970s, denied the Steelers pioneered steroid use in the NFL.
Haslett played in Buffalo from 1979 to 1985, and finished his career in 1987 with the New York Jets. He said he used steroids for one season early in his career.
|Current Saints coach Jim Haslett played linebacker for seven seasons with the Bills (1979-85). (AP)|
Rooney rejected Haslett's claims, noting the Steelers were known for smaller, quicker linemen who ran trap plays that required they be agile, not bulky.
"This is totally false when he says it started with the Steelers in the '70s," Rooney told the Post-Gazette. "(Then-coach) Chuck Noll was totally against it. He looked into it, examined it, talked to people. Haslett, maybe it affected his mind.
"Chuck Noll told the players, 'Hey, this stuff doesn't do you any good. If you just do the work, lift, things like that, you'll be all right,"' Rooney said.
At least one Steelers player from that era has admitted using steroids. Steve Courson, a part-time starter on Pittsburgh's last Super Bowl title team in 1979, has blamed a heart condition on steroid use. Courson has also said that teammates such as Jack Ham and Jack Lambert adamantly refused to use them.
Haslett on Wednesday estimated half the league's players, and all its linemen, took steroids in the 1980s before they were banned by the league. The league began testing for steroids in 1987, but players weren't suspended for using them until 1989. The league started using random, year-round drug testing in 1990.
Haslett said Thursday he was trying to show how the NFL has progressed since then in fighting steroid use.