With the newly agreed upon drug policy seemingly in the process of becoming official, I wanted to look at what is still a major gripe of mine with the NFL, and pro sports in general: alcohol gets a free pass, regardless of how much havoc it wreaks.
Cannabis is safer than alcohol and about as performance-enhancing as a stick of Juicy Fruit (unless you’re playing Madden, I won’t even begin to tell you that being stoned doesn’t make you a stud at video games!). Cannabis should not be treated any differently than alcohol, as far as the league is concerned.
To be sure, federal law is the largest impediment to changing this policy, but the NFL could institute a more lax policy in the interim. Instead, they are treating cannabis as a sort of middle-range drug. They don’t see it being as dangerous as crack or meth, but they are still putting it higher up on the punishment scale than alcohol. With the random drug screenings the league now employs, a player who has zero on or off the field issues can get popped for smoking weed, yet a comparable player who also has no issues can drink himself to sleep every night and the league will not utter a peep. Player A will get sent into a treatment protocol and face mandatory suspension, Player B will get his check and be free to get another 6-pack.
And what about conflicting legal issues? For instance, players who are on the Broncos or the Seahawks get mixed signals. The state tells them it’s ok to go buy and use cannabis, but the league will still penalize them for it. And what about players from other states who wish to partake while playing in WA or CO? They are also in a bit of gray area, legally speaking.
Now, I know that player conduct is beholden to what the league stipulates and is not necessarily tied to state laws. However, the league could do much to mitigate the number of violations by restructuring what exactly will warrant a violation. I highly doubt anyone in the league will honestly tell you that cannabis provides an unfair advantage to players, unless you consider healthier pain management options and an alternative to alcohol advantages (and I do). Alcohol is far more dangerous to players than cannabis. I’m not certain if Ray Rice was drunk when he nearly killed his wife in that elevator, but I’d wager so.
These players work incredibly hard and play a very risky game, they need to release their stress and effectively take care of their bodies. Though it would be tough to prove, I would argue that many players turn to alcohol because, so long as they don’t get DUI’s or beat up women, the league really doesn’t give a shit how often or much a player drinks.
If the NFL would loosen up on weed, it would be a viable option to replace alcohol as the drug of choice. And we all know that smoking a J and violence aren’t exactly bedfellows, yet drinking and violence have a long, long history of correlation. If the NFL is serious about standing up to domestic violence, it should try to curtail the influence of the alcohol culture in the league and the apparent stranglehold that alcohol companies have over sports advertising in general.
Look, I don’t have a problem with alcohol. I drink here and there like anyone else. But there is absolutely no logical reason for letting it off the hook when it engenders so much nastiness, especially when the league wants to treat weed like it’s doing something bad to the player. I’ve said it before, just treat weed like booze and if any single player suffers a loss of production due to their drinking/weed habits, then cut their asses.