Let's get this out of the way up front. Robert Mathis was negligent.
He should have double checked with the NFL or the NFL Players Association before taking Clomid near the end of last season in an attempt to conceive another child with his wife. The Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker, in fact, has admitted as much.
And NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has judged him, handing down a four-game suspension on Friday for violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy. That is Goodell's right, and it is supported by the NFL's collective bargaining agreement with the union.
But I will not judge Mathis.
Because my wife and I have struggled with infertility for more than a decade.
Unless you've been there, you can't understand.
You can't understand what it's like to look at your Facebook timeline each time another friend announces a baby is on the way. You can't understand what it's like to be unable to provide your parents and your in-laws with the grandchildren they so richly deserve.
You can't understand what it's like to glance at your wife beside you on the couch as she is reduced to tears by a television sitcom with an especially powerful episode dealing with one of the main character's inability to bear a child.
You can't understand what it's like to be unable to staunch those tears. To have no answer. To have no way to make things better.
So if a doctor came to me today offering a light at the end of the tunnel, I wouldn't give a second thought as to whether I was standing on the train tracks.
I understand Mathis already had twin boys before he started this treatment. I also understand there was a time-sensitive element with attempting to conceive another baby.