In the wake of Texans linebacker Brian Cushing's four-game suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs, the issue of what to do about his Defensive Rookie of the Year award is now in play.

Cushing (pictured) won the award, voted on by a panel of 50 media members appointed by the Associated Press. Full disclosure: I am one of the voters, and I voted for Cushing, who had a terrific season for the Texans with 133 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and four interceptions.

There are other individual awards handed out by various groups, but the AP award is considered the most widely accepted honor because of the select voting members.

There are now calls for the NFL to rescind Cushing's award, but it may not be up to the league to do so. After all, the NFL didn't sponsor the award, the Associated Press did. So it stands to reason that the AP would be the organization to strip Cushing of the award and give it to the second-place vote-getter, which in this case was Bills safety Jairus Byrd.

Cushing was a runaway winner with 39 first-place votes, while Byrd had only six. But in light of the suspension for steroids, Byrd deserves to become the award winner.

As ESPN's Adam Schefter reported yesterday, Cushing appealed his suspension in February, which means the positive test in all likelihood occurred sometime during the regular season. If that's the case, then Cushing, who has long been rumored to be using steroids, gave himself an unfair advantage by taking the performance-enhancing drugs. 

Bills safety Donte Whitner made his feelings known on his Twitter account, saying that Cushing's award should be stripped and the honor given to teammate Byrd. "Give the defensive rookie of the year to Jarius Byrd...he did it the RIGHT way!"

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Byrd had a terrific season last year, producing nine interceptions for a defensive unit that did little else right. In light of Cushing's suspension, it's only fitting that the Associated Press takes the next step in giving the 2009 Defensive Rookie of the Year award to Byrd.