In the last few months, drugs and the abuse of substances has been at the forefront of most conversations involving the NFL. Even without the lengthy history of the NFL, in the last few months alone, news about substances or the use of has been all the rage it seems.
One can first go back to the NFL draft, and by now everybody should have seen the video. If you haven’t, it’s below, but it shows NFL Draftee and current Miami Dolphin Laremy Tunsil indulging in the smoking of marijuana via a gas mask.
Beyond Tunsil’s video, there has also been a rash of failed or missed drug test (looking at you LeVeon Bell) that one can point to as well. Although the failing of mandatory tests aren’t exclusive to the NFL, for what they are being failed for and the expanding factors surrounding the situations are. The previous comment references the fact that though other sports are testing and punishing, MLB for example, the most of their positive tests are for what they describe as PED’s or performance enhancing drugs. The NFL on the other hand has mostly had an issue with drugs of the recreational nature, and a lot of the times, marijuana. As there are numerous players who have been suspended in the past for the use of substances and specifically marijuana, this off season has seen quite a lot of “substance” and marijuana related issues. The ever evolving case of Johnny Football is a situation that comes to mind, however there are some and quite a few that will argue that his substance problem goes far beyond weed. There is of course Tunsil’s situation as documented above and Bell’s circumstances which were also mentioned, but then there are others that are caught in this whirlwind as well.
In the last few days it has been widely reported that Randy Gregory, a second year defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys, has again tested positive. It has also been reported that Gregory has checked himself into a treatment facility, and probably for the best as it was marijuana that caused him to drop in the draft and lose millions. This is a retroactive act though, as the failed test means that he could be suspended as many as 14 games in upcoming season, depending on the decisions of the League. Another defensive lineman familiar with the situation of being in the news due to his substance situation is Aldon Smith, who is also reportedly checking himself into a facility. This comes in the midst of an upcoming suspension for Smith, but also after a video associated with the NFL’er surfaced that seems pretty incriminating, check it out.
What needs to be done? Some argue that the rules on weed are too strict as there are clearly some States that see or have seen fit to legalize it. Some argue that if you can’t take your job serious enough to not get involved, then the person deserves what he gets. Some even argue that the help some seem to be seeking is the right answer. Those answers help most, but still leave some out in the cold, such as Johnny Football, whose problems may be much deeper than marijuana and who seems to be rejecting entering a facility. Nobody really knows. The best thing to do is to probably proceed with caution and dexterity as the landscape and the feelings about the topic are constantly evolving. Although there are no certainties, it can be said that the NFL is trying to move in the right direction as they have taken huge steps in the last few days. This comes in the form of allowing suspended receiver Josh Gordon to be with the Browns conditionally, who was suspended a year for marijuana related issues and has dealt with them for a large part of his major career. It also is evident in the fact that NFL conditionally reinstated Miami Dolphin defensive lineman Dion Jordan, a player that has also faced his fair share of marijuana related troubles. It may be slow, but it needs to be deliberate, and it looks as though the NFL is on the cusp of reforming the movement.