Maybe the NFL was moved by the thought of the two Carolina Panthers cheerleaders, shall we say, enjoying each other's company. Perhaps Mrs. National Football League came home from Victoria's Secret in a frisky mood. Whatever the reason, the NFL has decided it no longer needs Levitra or any other "E.D." drug.

For those of you who have never seen an NFL football game, ads for the drug Levitra (an official sponsor of the NFL) run seemingly after every play, whether the play in question involved a 206-year-old Doug Flutie or not. According to the ads, without the drug, a man will be unable to throw a football through a tire swing, a skill the 40-ish man presumably once possessed. But take this little pill, and voila! your passes go through the hoop time and again, and your unbelievably hot wife now likes you again.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league that fines players for wearing socks at the wrong height simply felt that "the marketing of the drug went from a mens health issue to a lifestyle performance issue" and the league was no longer comfortable with that.

Personally, I think I was a little more frightened when Bob Dole announced to the world in his Viagra commercial that he was finally able give his wife a little Dole lovin' than I was to see a couple of reasonably attractive people under the age of 70 throw footballs through a tire. Bob Dole getting some just isn't a pretty picture for me.

Maybe it was another Viagra spokesman that killed that sweet NFL action for the Viagra competitor Levitra. Rafael Palmiero was one of the best known athletes to freely admit that he took performance enhancing drugs, but it was Viagra that he admitted gave him a lift off the field, not on it. Perhaps the NFL, after watching Palmiero subsequently test positive for steroids, didn't want to send the message to its players that it was willing to condone the use of any performance enhancing drug whatsoever.

Looking at it in retrospect, is it possible that Palmiero needed off-field performance enhancing drugs because of his use of on-field performance enhancing drugs? Jose Canseco says the opposite is true, but then again, it's Jose Canseco, not the Surgeon General talking.

It's also possible that in the face of mountains of criticism for the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction during the halftime extravaganza a couple of years ago, and further complaints when Terrell Owens watched Nicollette Sheridan drop her towel and jump into his arms (who knew then that T.O. was giving us a glimpse of the future when he said the Eagles would have to play without him), the league just didn't want to jump full time into the sex trade. It's not the Naked Fun League, you know.

So goodbye to the tawdry double-entendres. No longer will dads everywhere have to change the subject back to football when their kid asks, "Daddy, what's erectile dysfunction, and why do you have to go to a doctor if an erection lasts more than four hours?" I'd simply say, "Honey, I have no personal knowledge of what that all means, but apparently it has something to do with throwing footballs through tires, and I guess you'd get sore after four hours of that."

Rudick notes that there will still be plenty of beer ads with scantily clad females to offend people. Rudick's email is brudick@epix.net

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