Hot on the heels of Jose Canseco's controversial book on baseball and steroids, agent Doug Ames is pitching a tell-all football book by the Columbia, S.C., doctor under a federal steroids investigation.
"It will shock a lot of people," Ames said yesterday from New York, where he and Dr. James Shortt have been visiting book publishers.
Shortt is under investigation by state and federal authorities for prescribing steroids. CBS News reported last week that three players with the Carolina Panthers filled testosterone prescriptions issued by Shortt two weeks before they played in the February 2004 Super Bowl.
The players identified were center Jeff Mitchell, tackle Todd Steussie and punter Todd Sauerbrun. Steussie is no longer with the Panthers.
The State (Columbia, S.C.) newspaper broke the story in March, reporting that at least nine current or former Panthers were sought for information about Shortt.
Now, according to Ames, Shortt is ready to write about steroids in the NFL and is prepared to identify players who have abused the performance-enhancing drugs. The catch is that he would require approval from his patients or he would be in violation of federal privacy laws.
Ames suggested there were retired players who likely would cooperate because Shortt had helped extend their careers.
"If we can't name names, there will be no book," Ames said. "We're not into lawsuits."
If current players admitted to steroids use, they could be suspended four games under the NFL's steroids policy.
In an exclusive interview with the Charlotte Observer last week, Shortt said he sometimes prescribed steroids in moderate doses to help patients, and not just athletes, recover from injuries, fatigue and stress.
"As a doctor, you prescribe what's needed," Ames told the Observer. "This was not done so they could play better at a position. It was done so they could play the position."
Ames represented Canseco in book negotiations that resulted in his book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big. A former minor-league pitcher, Ames said he first met Canseco in Madison, Wis., where he played with Jose's brother, Ozzie.
Regan Books published Canseco's book, and Paul Crichton, director of publicity, said yesterday his company is interested in Shortt's book.
"I think there is major interest here," Crichton said.
Ames said he hopes to pick a publisher by next week, and that the book will be available around the start of the NFL's regular season.
The NFL has launched its own investigation into the Carolina situation, and plans to talk to the players association about strengthening its steroid testing procedures.
NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw yesterday declined comment on the Panthers case, but said the union reviews the drug policy every year.
"We, along with the NFL, are also in the process of evaluating the steroid/drug policy," Upshaw said in a statement. "Every year we review the progress of our steroid/drug policy to ensure that players are educated on the health risks and dangers of performance-enhancing banned substances."