NFL offseason 2014: Review of the NFL drug policy

This past week, Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington was suspended for the year for again breaking the NFL substance abuse policy.  According to writer Brain McIntyre, the Cardinals will look to recoup the $12.5 million signing bonus Washington received over the last two seasons.  Washington was suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season for the same reason.

In the NFL, players being suspended over substance abuse is nothing new.  What has become alarming is that the players are repeat offenders and they are not being suspended over powerful narcotics.  Players are being suspended for marijuana. 

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is facing a year suspension over the same thing.  He too was suspended last season for a drug violation. 

While it is beyond logical to put millions of dollars at state for a recreational drug, one must wonder if the NFL policy is antiquated. 

The NFL has teams in two cities where marijuana is not illegal at all, Seattle and Denver.  Public opinion has been swaying on the need for marijuana to be legal for years.  It may be time for the NFL to look at how it is handling this particular situation.

According to, more than 10 players failed drug tests at the 2014 NFL combine.  These players knew they were to be tested and used anyway.

According to, the NFL is looking to reduce penalties for marijuana, but the guys who have already been suspended will not have their suspensions reduced. 

The NFL may need to consider having a stay of penalty on any player until the new updated policy is in place. 

In January reported that the NFL may consider allowing marijuana for medicinal purposes.  Twenty states in the U.S. already allow such use.   

The players who are putting themselves in the situation to be suspended are not thinking of their careers or their teams.  However, when a league is so confused on how it wants to deal with its policy on marijuana use, it sends the wrong message to its players. 

Photo Courtesy: Steve Bloom


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Keenan Actkins

Keenan Actkins is an Arizona resident living in the Phoenix metropolitan area. He brings a wealth of sports knowledge and passion to the team with his unique insight and strong voice and opinion. He also contributes to Yahoo! Voices and has written for


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