Should the NFL be testing for recreational drugs?

With the Sam Hurd fiasco, the NFL has a PR problem on its hands. It will get even worse if Hurd starts to sing and name NFL players as his clients for his alleged drug-dealing exploits.

With that, we’re getting the proverbial declarations that the NFL should be doing more about recreational drugs. Gary Myers takes his stab at arguing for tougher testing by the NFL. Here are some of the highlights:

As strict as the NFL is with its year-round random steroid testing program — it knocks on players’ doors in the offseason — that’s how easy it is to beat the recreational drug test. All players are tested once a year during a three-month window that opens around minicamp and closes with the training camp physical.

Sometime between May 1 and Aug. 1, players know they are going to have to pee in a bottle and their urine will be tested for cocaine, marijuana or other recreational drugs.

This is not so much a drug test as an intelligence test. How stupid does a player have to be — or how dependent on drugs must he be — to fail a test when he knows it’s coming?

Once a player passes his annual test, he is free and clear for at least the next nine months until the test the following year or if there is reasonable cause to believe he has a drug problem.

Dead giveaway that a player might have a marijuana problem: He comes in every day with blood shot eyes and sits in the meeting room with 10 bags of potato chips. White powder around his nose might indicate a cocaine problem.

So, a player not only has to be dumb to flunk the annual test, but awfully dumb or dependent to exhibit signs of drug use in the workplace.

The NFL considers steroids a competitive issue, but recreational drugs a medical issue. If a player has a problem, it tries to get him help. If he keeps flunking tests, he gets suspended. A first-time flunked steroids test gets four games. The union has blocked the NFL from starting a HGH blood-testing program.

He ends the column with this proclamation:

The NFL needs the same deterrent for recreational drugs as it has with steroids. It wouldn’t stop a player from dealing. Leave that to the feds. But it would stop players from using. Pee in the cup, boys.

He also spends time talking about other drug problems in the past like the Jamal Lewis conviction.

What we don’t get from Myers is any argument at all as to why the NFL should get tougher here. He just proclaims it, yet offers no reason, as if it should just be obvious.

For some people, it is obvious, but that’s why we have a failed War on Drugs. There’s this notion that we need to control people and stop them for doing stupid things. Good luck.

It’s perfectly rational for an employer to test for drugs in work environments where safety is a concern. We don’t want construction workers toking up or downing six packs at lunch. Same goes for airline pilots.

And, it’s logical for the NFL to test for performance enhancing drugs, as it affects the integrity of the game. The NFL understands, however, that smoking marijuana is not going to improve your 40 time. In fact, all the Cheetos you end up eating will slow you down instead.

I think the NFL has it right here. They are concerned about the health of players, so they have a loose policy on recreational drugs that gets tough when an obvious problem arises. But they really don’t care that much if football players who get the crap beat out of them every week decide to relax with a joint in the offseason. Kudos to the NFL.

And as far as PR goes, the NFL avoids PR problems by not testing so vigorously. If you get tough, then you’ll have more violations, and more needless headlines.

People are always quick to demand restrictions on the behavior of others. Does Myers have to submit to drug testing? Did he have too many beers when he wrote his column? Of course the notion of randomly testing journalists is absurd, but it’s not less absurd than the notion of testing football players.

Leave the players alone unless there’s an obvious problem.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Jamal Lewis denies being injected with HGH by “Steroid Doctor”

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 20:  Running back Jamal Lewis #31 of the Cleveland Browns rushes against the Denver Broncos during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 20, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Browns 27-6.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Former NFL running back Jamal Lewis says he is a longtime patient of Dr. Anthony Galea, but denies that the Canadian doctor ever injected him with HGH or illegal banned substances.


Lewis, the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2003, is adamant that he was never injected with HGH or any illegal or banned substances. He and other athletes treated by Galea don’t face legal issues as a result of the treatments, as federal authorities have been careful to describe them as witnesses and not subjects in their on-going investigation. Lewis and his attorney, Jerry Froelich, declined to say whether he has spoken with federal investigators or NFL officials.

“It is about being a superb athlete that is very in tune with your body, knowing the right people to go to and find,” Lewis said. “He is one out of how many other doctors that I have seen. I am just more in tune with my body. No steroids, no HGH, no off-brand chemicals in my body, none of that. I am just pure hard work. I am going to out-work you. That is it. At same time, I want to be able to stay fresh. I want to make sure my muscles, my joints and everything is in tune ready to go.”

Of the charges facing Galea: “I just think it was a bad deal, bad rap they were trying to give him. He’s a great guy. Good person. Humble person. Just would never do anything to hurt a person, period.”

Something interesting that Lewis said in the article is that he sought out Galea’s opinion because he, “never really trusted team doctors or the team trainers” because they didn’t have his best interest in mind. Athletes seek second opinions all the time when it comes to injuries, but I wonder if many players share the same feelings as Lewis about not having complete trust in team doctors. If that’s the case, then it’s something the NFL should look into because players have to feel as though they can trust team doctors.

When Galea’s name comes up, I always ask the same questions: Did the players know that Galea was an in for performance-enhancing substances and that’s why they sought him out, or were they completely oblivious to his connections with substances? I would have to imagine that there are players in the league who didn’t ask questions when the doc’s name came up. They probably heard that he can heal injuries fast and that’s all some players needed to seek his advice.

Hear no evil – see no evil.

One thing is for sure: players trusted him. As Lewis notes in the article, he recommended Galea to other players around the league that had chronic problems with knees, ankles, joints – you name it.

But again, was that because players knew Galea had a “cocktail” that could heal them faster or did they really believe he was one of the best doctors outside of the league?

Jamal Lewis done for the season, and his career

The Browns placed running back Jamal Lewis on injured reserve on Wednesday night with post-concussion symptoms, effectively ending his season and his career.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Lewis, who previously announced this would be his last NFL season, has played his last down of football. He will retire as the 21st leading NFL rusher with 10,607 yards in 131 career games.

But Lewis’ place on the all-time rushing list is the furthest thing from his mind.

A source said that Lewis was “pretty shaken up” when an MRI test showed “brain abnormalities.” They may be the result of excessive trauma triggered by a recent hit. More tests will be done to determine the extent of Lewis’ injury, the source said.

The injuries to Lewis and Pool really bring home the wave of concussion awareness currently sweeping the NFL. Recent concussion injuries suffered by Philadelphia running back Brian Westbrook, Washington running back Clinton Portis, Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner and Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger accentuated national attention on the NFL’s need to deal better with head injuries.

The NFL is trying to make head injuries more of a priority by making players wait longer after they suffer post-concussion symptoms. With the amount of head injuries that players have suffered this year, it’s a good thing that the league is being more proactive but it’s still up to the players to be honest when they’re suffering any symptoms.

As for Lewis, his 2009 season will end with career lows in total yardage (588), touchdowns (0), catches (8) and rushing yards per game (55.6). He’ll mostly be remembered for his 2003 season with the Ravens when he rushed for 2,066 yards and 14 touchdowns on 387 carries. He rushed for 5.3 yards per carry that season and had 16 runs of 20-plus yards.

It’s unlikely that Lewis will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but he put together a nice career for himself and he’ll retire with a Super Bowl ring.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Lewis: Mangini is wearing Browns out

Running back Jamal Lewis suggested in a recent interview with the media that head coach Eric Mangini is wearing the 1-7 Browns out in practice.


Lewis, who intends to retire after this season, said Thursday that he doesn’t want to be a “babysitter” to Cleveland’s younger players. He wants to win and expressed disappointment that two- and three-hour practices aren’t translating into wins for the team, which has a 1-7 record.

“There’s talent all over this locker room, young and old,” he said before practice. “There’s talent everywhere, but that talent has got to be ready for Sunday, it’s got to be fresh for Sunday. You can work all day, but if you’re going to work like that, you’re probably not going to get what you want out of your players.”

While Lewis doesn’t mind working hard, he said Mangini is wearing out his players. The team captain said he hasn’t approached his coach about making changes.

“This is his show, not mine,” Lewis said. “You got to take care of your crop. If you don’t, when it comes time to harvest, you’re not going to make no money because the crop is no good. That’s that.”

Is it just me or does it seem like the majority of players that complain about practices being too hard play on bad teams? I remember a few years back when some Lions players bitched that Rod Marinelli’s practices were too hard.

Forget about Lewis’ crying, the real story here is that yet another Browns player is complaining about the way Mangini is running his team. When a coach acts like a hard ass, treats his players like crap and still finds ways to lose on Sundays, his players are going to quit on him. And that’s exactly what’s happening in Cleveland with Mangidiot.

Mangini’s approach isn’t working and if he can’t adjust then he’s going to find his ass unemployed real soon. Nothing he’s doing or has done in Cleveland has worked.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Jamal Lewis has had enough, plans to retire after the ’09 season

Following the Browns’ ugly 30-6 loss to the Bears on Sunday, running back Jamal Lewis said that he plans to retire after the season.

While he claims it wasn’t just a statement made in the heat of the moment, nobody would blame Lewis if it were. Lewis is 30, has seen his play drop quite a bit this year and he’s stuck on a morbid franchise. So why stick around?

I honestly don’t know how the Browns have won a game this year. Their defense is bad, but it pails in comparison to how atrocious Derek Anderson and the offense is, which turned the ball over five times on Sunday. Chicago’s secondary has been shredded at times this season, yet Anderson found a way to only complete 6-of-17 pass attempts for a measly 76 yards. Oh, and he also threw two interceptions and fumbled once.

I’m sure someone will raise the question of whether or not Brady Quinn should resume the starting spot over Anderson next week. But Quinn has already shown that he’s just as incapable of running the offense as Anderson is, so does it really matter? If I were a Cleveland fan (and I just threw up a little at the mere thought of that), I’d rather see Brett Ratliff given a chance to start before Quinn is given a second opportunity.

About the only reason to watch the Browns these days is to see whether or not defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will get in a fight with anyone on the sidelines. He and Jay Cutler went at it (verbally, of course) on Sunday and it was the only entertainment Cleveland provided all day.

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