The NFL, marijuana, and suspensions
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
It’s been an interesting off-season for the NFL. Big names and washed-up stars have moved around. Rule changes have been discussed. Fresh faces from college have been drafted and immediately anointed the saviours of their new teams. And it’s just not the NFL if Roger Goodell’s crackdown on drugs hasn’t come up with a few more felons, so there’s that too.
You have to wonder what goes through the mind of a professional athlete when they take a banned substance, especially when that athlete is considered among the elite in the game. They’ve got the fame, the money, the house, the car, and pretty much anything else they desire. Why jeopardize that? Regardless of the player and whatever perceptions about their work ethic (or lack thereof) are, they have put a significant effort into honing their craft and to get where they are. Are steroids really necessary to up their game? Or worse, is it really worth risking everything for a bit of bud?
Exhibit A is currently Josh Gordon. The NFL’s leader in receiving yards—with an astonishing 1,646—is expected to be suspended by the league for an entire season after reportedly failing a drug test due to marijuana.
Hold the collective facepalm for a moment. Gordon’s remarkable season is made all the more impressive by the fact that he missed two games. The ex-Baylor man averaged 117.6 yards per outing. The real story here is that he missed the first two games due to a failed drug test (codeine from his cough medicine is his alibi and he’s sticking to it).
But wait, there’s more.
Gordon was a supplemental draft pick coming out of college because he had some… issues. Bet the house on the daily double, kids, because it was marijuana that landed him in trouble in school too.
To sum up Gordon’s career, he just about had his career aspirations ruined by dope, made it to the NFL anyway, had a decent rookie season, failed a drug test, realized he should probably be more careful, led the entire league in receiving yards quite handily, and then got nailed for pot again. You can’t write this stuff. And to top it off, when he was pulled over on the weekend of May 25, the passenger in his car was found to have marijuana on him.
The complaints from many fans is centred on the fact that Gordon is being busted for dope. Not Adderall. Not steroids. Nothing that will actually help him on the field. He’s being punished for a purely recreational drug that millions upon millions partake in. Frankly, those fans should just leave it. Sure, dope isn’t a performance-enhancing drug, but it is illegal. Can you really expect the NFL to stand by and let their players blatantly use banned substances? What kind of an image would that portray? All the Pop Warner leagues that look up to the pros suddenly wouldn’t quite have the same wholesome family atmosphere to them.
No, Gordon and all the other suspensions (including another season-suspension to star linebacker Daryl Washington) handed out since 2006 by Goodell have only themselves to blame. Performance-enhancing or not, a drug is a drug; a rule is a rule; a suspension is some quality time to think about errors.