Overrated – The NFL’s drug policy

Ned Bitters

Ned Bitters

This week’s inductee into the “Overrated Hall of Fame” is … the NFL’s drug policy.

Six to 10 NFL players this past week tested positive for a diuretic that can help lower the amount of banned substances that show up in urine tests. Each of these players faces a four-game suspension, as per the saintly league’s drug policy. Steeler wide receiver Santonio Holmes, maintaining his annual arrest record, this week got nabbed with three blunts in his car. The saintly Steelers promptly suspended him for this week’s big match-up against the New York Giants.

The league congratulates itself for this bizarre moral double standard, and many fans follow suit, applauding the league for their hardline crackdown on those evil, insidious bad! bad! bad! players who like to smoke a little weed or shoot up some steroids. Come Sunday, this football-mad country will then foam at the mouth while watching the three-hour paean to violence that is every NFL game.

How dare any of us come down on NFL players who get high or shoot up. This nation has such a wacky obsession with drugs that we’re willing to watch men dish out concussions, tear up joints and even paralyze other players, yet we are aghast when one of these modern gladiators wants to take a steroid that will make him bigger, stronger, faster and more durable. I say shoot up, smoke up and do whatever else helps you recover faster so that you can get out there again next Sunday and crack heads for our entertainment while we sit on our fat, lazy asses drinking beer, eating Doritos, smoking Camels and swearing at the TV because the cornerback we think we “own” just got schooled by a guy with better speed; speed perhaps gained with the help of a syringe.

Here’s the message being sent by the inconsistent drug policies for NFL players. Sure, go ahead and compromise your core body structure by lifting weights until you’re so big that you can’t wipe your own ass. Work out in full pads in 90 degree summer heat twice a day, risking heat stroke and heart failure. Amass a collection of concussions that might leave you a jelly-brained 50-year-old who wears diapers and watches cartoons. Go out every Sunday and risk that one devastating injury that ends your career, voids your no-guarantee contract and leads to a never-ending battle with a despicable, obscenely rich NFL that throws its former players under the benefits bus. But for god’s sake, don’t toke up during the week, and don’t take the steroids that might lengthen your career and speed your aching body’s recovery.

Of course, we don’t care if you take other drugs, like the liver-destroying pain pills that some powerful pharmaceutical lobby has hammered into legality. We certainly don’t care if you drink so much beer or Crown Royal that you play yourself out of the league years before your time, because there’s always another hungry young gun coming up who can take your place for half the salary. Besides, beer companies are some of our biggest sponsors. Just don’t let us catch you taking a few hits of herb on a Tuesday night, even if that herb does far less damage to your body than the countless pain pills you all pop all season and the Jack and Cokes you pound on the plane rides home.

It’s yet another example of America’s puzzling double standard on drugs. We are a country that loves violence, hence the popularity of the NFL, which sells violence to a populace that lusts for it. We love wars, we love fights and we love football. You know what else we love? Drugs. Pain pills, anti-depressants, boner pills, weight loss pills, cock growing pills (fuckers never do work, damnit) and even pills for restless leg syndrome. And the two drugs we love the most? Alcohol and marijuana. Yet if you’re an NFLer, you can take all of the above. Except weed.

The league’s inane drug policy is in place just to appease the self-righteous yahoos who delude themselves into thinking that NFL football embodies good ol’ American fun. The league doesn’t give two shits about the players’ overall health. Just ask any retired player who has to fight for his benefits. Like any good business, all they care about is the bottom line, and if that bottom line is enhanced by making Roy and Freda from Terre Haute believe that the NFL has some sort of moral compass, then hey, let’s arbitrarily deem a few substances off-limits and those heartland yahoos will continue to spend money on tickets, jerseys and a slew of other tacky products adorned with their team’s NFL licensed insignia.

So poor Santonio Holmes, who was still allowed to catch touchdown passes after assaulting his woman and being disorderly with the cops in Miami Beach club, had to sit out this week’s game because of a few blunts. This decision came from revered owner Dan Rooney, the same Dan Rooney that defended Steeler James Harrison when he was accused of domestic violence earlier this year, claiming that Harrison was “trying to do something good,” which was taking his child to get baptized. He just had to knock down a locked door and slap the kid’s mother in the face on the way to church. James Harrison is headed to another Pro Bowl this year. He has missed no games. Santonio Holmes had to miss Sunday’s game for a three blunts. This is the same Dan Rooney whose family made its true fortune in horse racing. In other words, gambling, which has ruined more lives and families than all the joints smoked by NFLers combined.

But that’s the NFL for you. Three blunts in the car gets you suspended for the biggest game of the year so far. A hard slap to your baby mama’s face gets you a slap on the wrist.

Ned Bitters is, in fact, overrated. You can contact him at teacherslounge@hobotrashcan.com.

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