The new NFL substance-abuse policy will reduce the penalty for positive marijuana tests and will make it easier for players to pass urinalysis screenings by increasing the amount of chemicals in the system that would trigger a positive result, reports ESPN’s Dan Graziano.
The report comes on the heels of word that Josh Gordon, the league’s leading receiver, popped positive again for marijuana. A repeat offender, Gordon faces a year’s suspension. The new policy would not cover old infractions, such as the transgressions of the Cleveland receiver.
The policy signals a shift in NFL philosophy on the drug issue articulated by Commissioner Roger Goodell as recently as late January. In response to a question at his pre-Super Bowl address in Manhattan about the NFL possibly catching up to state law where the Seahawks and Broncos play, Goodell called called pot “an illegal substance on a national basis” with “questionable” benefits and “certainly some very strong evidence to the negative effects.” He also revealed that, like the league’s players, the league’s commissioner faces urinalyses. “I am randomly tested,” the commissioner said to laughter, “and I have to say I am clean.”
Several of the league’s players have suffered great consequences for failing such tests. Ricky Williams, famously, lost more than a season of his career because of his enthusiasm for smoking pot. Brandon Browner, now a New England Patriot, missed the Super Bowl as Seattle Seahawk for testing positive for a substance not even illegal in the state in which he played.
Although studies have indicated that pot decreases testosterone and may result in the development of breasts in chronic male users, Ricky Williams said weed did for him what spinach did for Popeye. Dolphins teammate Channing Crowder lent support to the running back’s contention by revealing that Williams smoked marijuana the night before a career-defining 228-yard rushing performance against the Buffalo Bills in 2002.