The NFL NEEDS To Stop The Reefer Madness

John Steigerwald Contributor
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Maybe the NFL is banning the wrong drug.

Le’Veon Bell of the Steelers and his former teammate, LeGarrette Blount of the New England Patriots received their punishment for their run-in with the law last August.

Bell was pulled over by a cop as he and Blount were on their way to the Pittsburgh airport to board the Steelers’ team plane to Philadelphia.

The cop said he smelled marijuana coming from Bell’s car. They were both charged with misdemeanor marijuana violations and Bell was charged with driving under the influence of marijuana.

Blount got probation but was able to wipe his record clean with 50 hours of community service.

Bell also got 15 months probation and was entered into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for first-time offenders.

Earlier this week, the NFL handed out its penalties. Blount was suspended for one game and Bell for three.

The NFL has a big problem with players who smoke marijuana. Alcohol is okay. Understandably, the league has a zero tolerance policy for DUI and DWI convictions.

Marijuana is still illegal in most states but that’s looking more and more temporary every election cycle.

The NFL needs to get with it and stop testing players for marijuana.

One of this year’s top prospects, pass rusher Randy Gregory, may have cost himself millions of dollars by flunking the marijuana portion of the drug test at the recently completed NFL Combine. He was considered a top five pick but has been falling down most mock draft boards.

He’s falling for the stupidity as much if not more than the weed, but the NFL caring whether Gregory has smoked marijuana in the last month is at least as stupid as his decision to smoke it.

Quick question: What was the NFL’s biggest problem last season?

If you didn’t answer domestic violence you weren’t paying attention.

Another question: Under the influence of which drug – marijuana or alcohol – would a big, strong man be more likely to physically abuse a woman?

It’s alcohol and it’s not even close. If your own life experiences haven’t told you that, there are plenty of studies that prove it.

In fact, if I were an NFL owner, general manager or coach, my first choice would be that my players stay away from both, but my second choice would be that they choose weed over booze.

If Bell and Blount had been drunk instead of stoned back in August, chances would have been much greater that they would have injured themselves or someone else in an accident or become involved in a violent confrontation with the cops.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that one-fourth of all violent crimes and three-fourths of all intimate partner violence incidents are committed by an offender who has been drinking,

Researchers at Yale University did a nine year study of married couples and found that those who regularly smoked marijuana reduced their chances of partner violence.

Another study found that 20-year-old drivers with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent – the legal limit for driving – had an almost 20-fold increase in the risk of a fatal accident compared with sober drivers.

The lead author of the study, Eduardo Romano, a senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation said that, after adjusting for demographics and other factors, marijuana did not statistically increase the risk of a crash.

So, how much sense does it make for the NFL to have no penalty for a player who drinks a fifth of Jack Daniels every night, as long as he doesn’t beat someone up, run someone over or get himself arrested, but a suspension for a player who shows signs of smoking a joint any time in the last 30 days?

The drug that is more likely to perpetuate the NFL’s biggest problem is okay. The drug that might eliminate it is banned.

Of course, the one that is banned doesn’t bring in billions in advertising dollars or concession stand sales.

Pittsburgh ex-TV sportscaster, columnist and talk show host John Steigerwald is the author of the Pittsburgh sports memoir, “Just Watch The Game.” Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast at pittsburghpodcastnetwork.com