Tuesday, February 21, 2006

My modest proposal to the NFL: Legalize it

"Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in."

My regular readers should know by now not to trust anything I write here. When I say "I don't like blogging about blogging", that means "Expect at least three posts a week about other bloggers." A post titled ""My last Katrina-related entry" was followed by at least six posts that mentioned the hurricane. So when I wrote "there's really no real sport story worth talking about until the World Cup in the summer", I hope you were prepared for a slew of sports posts.

So now you back in the trap.
But honestly, I really thought I was done with the NFL until at least August. That was before Ricky Williams got caught with cloudy piss, of course.

The news distressed me because Ricky is one of my favorite professional athletes, less for his talents and more for his personality, warts and all. Here's a guy who actually cares about life beyond football. He's honest enough to admit that, yes, he's motivated by the paycheck. He's so shy that he gave locker room interviews with his helmet on during his rookie year, and his shyness is often mistaken for aloofness - something I can relate to as a complete social retard.

And it had me thinking. Wouldn't everyone - the NFL, the players, the fans, sponsors, and pretty much everyone on this earth except maybe the makers of the Marijuana Patch - be better off if the league just let its players smoke weed?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying get rid of the substance abuse policy. Or even remove marijuana from the banned substances list. You gotta keep that in there. Middle America would lose its shit if that happened - you have to at least pretend to to frown upon marijuana if you want mass appeal. But stop random testing for marijuana, and only penalize players who get caught by law enforcement.

If the league would just implicitly let its players get high on their own time, Ricky Williams would still be one of the league's premier backs. There would be no "Whizzinator" incident. And Nate Newton... well, 213 lbs. of marijuana is a lot for even a guy his size.

"But do we really want players getting high?", you might ask. I say hell yes - given the realities of pro football, anyway.

Marijuana vs Painkillers

Professional players destroy their bodies to make a living and I imagine very few of them go through life pain-free. It's not rare that a veteran can't lift his arms to brush his hair or play with their kids, or suffer from post-concussion headaches, so some sort of pain medication becomes a necessity.

Now, do you want players popping prescription painkillers or getting stoned? I pick stoned. Let's see - marijuana is illegal, so that's 1 point for painkillers. But think about how addictive prescription pills like OxyContin are. Had Brett Favre been puffing joints instead of, he and the league would have been spared the embarrassment of having the league's brightest star checking himself into rehab.

But prescriptions are regulated, you might argue. Maybe for you and me. But athletes at top college programs and the NFL are going to have unlimited access to the stuff. Any regulation is moot.

Marijauna makes you say some dumb shit (though probably no dumber than "I want to kiss you") and write some dumb songs, but for all its fault, it's not physically addictive. You can't say that for painkillers, tobacco or alcohol.

The League's Image

But wouldn't a look-the-other way attitude just encourage marijuana use and result in increased drug-related incidents among NFL athletes? Well, the current substance abuse policy has done a lot of good for Ricky, hasn't it?

And ask yourself - when was the last time a professional athlete got stoned and beat his wife? Got into a nightclub brawl (or even went to a nightclub after a couple of bong hits in the basement)? Weed chills motherfuckers out. Weed makes motherfuckers lazy. Weed is what you want NFL players on off days.


Of course, there are dangers to taking a cavalier attitude towards pot. For example, there are some dumbass motherfuckers in the league. If they're going to get trying to bring firearm on to a plane, chances are, they're going to get caught smuggling pot too. So set some unwritten rules - no weed on the road, no weed after Wednesday, no weed outside the home, and have a system of internal fines.

Also, there is the risk of having unsavory types associating with players. Well, more so than now. You know how the league has an agent certification program? Have the same system - except a secret one of course - for pot dealers. Make sure they're not slinging anything else, that they're not being watched, and that they're not too closely tied to organized crime. This shouldn't be hard - NFL Security's been doing the same shit on players for years.

So there you have it - simply by looking the other way, the NFL can reduce its image problem by roughly 17% while ensuring the well-being of its players' health.

God, I'm a genius.

Oh wait, it wasn't weed? Ah fuck.


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