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NFL Could See NFLPA Push for Rule Changes on Marijuana Use

Jess Haynie

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NFL, marijuana

Recent comments from the NFL Players Association director, DeMaurice Smith, indicate that the union may soon push the league to change their drug policy regarding the use of marijuana. With medicinal and recreational use being legalized in a rising number of states through the U.S., Smith seems to feel it's time for the NFL to reassess the issue.NFL Could See NFLPA Push for Rule Changes on Marijuana Use

As reported by the Washington Post, DeMaurice Smith discussed the changing social and medical climates regarding marijuana. One of the areas he addressed is the basic shift in perception:

“Obviously [we] understand the changes in legalization all over the country. I don’t know how many people here have kids or grew up the way that you grew up, but people think differently."

Many of us grew up thinking that marijuana was no better than or different from cocaine or heroin; a byproduct of the "war on drugs" and the public school system. Time has seen that stigma fall away, though, and especially over the last decade as marijuana legislation has changed in slightly over half of the United States.

One reason for these changes is the rising appreciation for marijuana in the medical community. Given other health concerns facing the NFL right now, Smith had to admit that there needed to be a serious consideration of its potential benefits.

"We have to do a better job of knowing if our players are suffering from other potentially dangerous psychological issues like depression, right? So if I look at this myopically as just a recreational use of marijuana and miss the fact that we might have players suffering from depression, what have I fixed?"

Regarding the medical issues surrounding marijuana, Smith also stated:

"We will be looking at the issue of the efficacy of using marijuana, along with looking at opioid use and all of the ways in which our players are treated by physicians and sometimes not treated well by physicians and, being blunt, the ways in which they self-treat. . . ."

Perhaps the most important aspect of DeMaurice Smith's comments was in the way the NFL will deal with policy violations in the future. Even if marijuana remains a banned substance, it's clear that Smith and the NFL Players Association want to see a different handling of the players who run afoul of the policy:

“I do think that issues of addressing it more in a treatment and less punitive measure is appropriate. I think it’s important to look at whether there are addiction issues. And I think it’s important to not simply assume recreation is the reason it’s being used."

Cowboys fans should be interested in this development after the last few seasons.

Randy Gregory

We just watched defensive end Randy Gregory, talented but troubled, lose nearly an entire season to his marijuana addiction. He is now facing a one-year ban that could cost him most of 2017 as well. We've also had the recent experience with Rolando McClain, although marijuana was just one of his vices.

Right now, the NFL already has a slightly relaxed policy on marijuana compared to other drugs. They allow an additional offense prior to entering the suspensions and fines are less severe. That may be roadblock to additional softening; the league already feeling as if they're treating marijuana users more mercifully than others.

The NFL's concussion crisis has brought them far closer to the medical community than at any point in its history, and perhaps in the history of all professional sports. Blind dismissal of marijuana really won't work anymore with so many other health-related discussion swirling around the league. Even if policies don't change, the NFL will want to show they've performed due diligence.

Time will tell if the NFLPA really does propose changes and if the NFL is willing to budge. For now, it's just another facet of one of the country's most wide-ranging discussions.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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4 Comments
  • XaqFields

    I hope they give this some serious thought. As DeMaurice Smith stated, even referring to this as “recreational” use of marijuana runs the risk of minimizing some of the legitimate psychological problems some players have that lead them to use it “recreationally.”

    Using Gregory as an example, I’ve always been of the belief just in seeing his interviews and seeing how beloved he seems to be in the locker room despite this problem, that he must fall into the “psychologically ill” category of people who feel compelled to use marijuana. IF that’s the case, it’s hard to justify how banning him from his job and what he loves for years is helping him in any way whatsoever. Ultimately you’re just taking talent off the football field over non-violent behavior that harms nobody but potentially himself.

    My opinion: quit testing for it. Maintain it as a banned substance, punish people who are charged with crimes related to marijuana, and approach assistance (ie: rehab, fines, etc) on a case-by-case basis if a player clearly needs it. These are professional athletes. If you’re abusing marijuana and you have a legitimate problem, your performance will suffer and your team (and your league) will have every motivation to help you in that case.

    • https://InsideTheStar.com/ Bryson Treece

      It’s been said that Randy Gregory is bi-polar, and bi-polar people traditionally respond well to pot, along with a whole host of other mental illnesses.

      But I disagree with keeping the rule and just not testing for it. That sort of “sweeping under the rug” mentality does no good. Better to simply revise the rules on marijuana use. I’d like to see the old rules totally tossed out, and the new rule merely state that any legal rulings or convictions are punishable under whatever morality/moral turpitude clauses exist in contracts.

      Unenforced rules undermine the whole system with a level of professional discretion that hurts the sport. Lord knows we don’t need any further reasons for Goodell to use his discretion.

      • XaqFields

        I can definitely understand that stance. I guess my only counter would be that I wouldn’t consider this an unenforced rule as much as you’re just changing the way you enforce the rule. Instead of falling under the illegal substances policy that you proactively test players for (along with steroids, cocaine, etc) you flip it into a player conduct policy that’s treated the same as when a player gets busted for a DUI or gets arrested for assault. In essence, that’s no different than how any other employer does it. Most places you have to pass a drug test in order to get hired, but ultimately they’ll never bother you about it again unless you get arrested or drugs are clearly influencing your work performance.

        BUT, ultimately I’m on board with any plan that results in a good kid like Randy Gregory not being banned from football for two years because he might feel he needs marijuana for a psychological disorder and unfortunately he doesn’t live somewhere where he can be prescribed it from a medical doctor.

  • Russ_Te

    Quincy Carter says “Sure. Now you change the rule”

    Tony Romo says “Thanks for getting busted Q. I was going to be cut”

    ;^)

Star Blog

A Look Around The NFC East: Week 2

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

The usually competitive NFC East got off to a shaky start last week, with half the division winning their season opener and the other half falling short.

Now entering week 2, the Eagles and Redskins have a chance to begin to distance themselves from the loser of the Cowboys/Giants game, and both of those 0-1 teams are looking to "save" their season. Yes, that sounds dramatic, but a home loss within the division to fall to 0-2 could be debilitating for the Dallas Cowboys moving forward.

Regardless, let's go around the division and see what each team has on tap for this Sunday.

Philadelphia Eagles

The defending champs opened up their 2018 campaign just as we expected: with a home victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta sort of gave that game away last Thursday night, but if the Eagles can stack Nick Foles-led wins on top of each other they'll put themselves in a great spot to win the East when Carson Wentz returns.

The Eagles will be on the road this week for the first time, traveling to Tampa Bay to play the 1-0 Buccaneers. The Bucs pulled the upset of the weekend last week, defeating New Orleans 48-40. It's hard to imagine that "Fitzmagic" continuing against the vaunted Eagles defense, though.

Philly is a three point road favorite against Tampa Bay this Sunday.

Washington Redskins

My "sleeper" team in the NFC East, and pick to finish second in the division, looked rather impressive in their week one drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals. Of course, Arizona isn't a very good team, and will probably be picking top 5 in the draft next April. Still, it was a good showing for the Redskins to open the season.

Washington got Adrian Peterson going on the ground for nearly 100 yards and a touchdown, and Chris Thompson helped keep them on schedule offensively as well. Washington hasn't been talked about much this offseason, but is sitting at 1-0 with a game against the 0-1 Colts on the horizon.

Washington is a 6 point favorite against Indianapolis this Sunday, and has a good chance of starting 2-0 on the year.

New York Giants

Though we are just one week into the 2018 regular season, an important matchup is brewing within the NFC East. After falling to 0-1 with a home loss in their season opener, the Giants will travel to Texas to face the Cowboys on Sunday night football this week.

With both teams sitting at 0-1, neither can afford to put themselves into a nearly-insurmountable hole with a second straight loss. Since the merger 90% of teams who fall to 0-2 fail to make the playoffs, and it would be back-to-back seasons of missing out for both the Cowboys and Giants.

New York is a three point road underdog on Sunday, and it seems like most of the football world is leaning towards them and their weapons coming away with the victory.

Either way, this game will have massive implications on the 2018 season.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Sigue Para la Ofensiva de los Cowboys?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Sigue Para la Ofensiva de los Cowboys?

En lo que fue una de las actuaciones más decepcionantes de la semana 1, los Dallas Cowboys no fueron capaces de avanzar en la ofensiva más que en una serie en la que anotaron un touchdown y una conversión de dos puntos. Fue un juego en el que nada funcionó más que la defensiva, la cual limitó a Cam Newton y compañía a sólo 16 puntos en un partido que pareció parejo, pero realmente no lo fue.

Ahora, antes de que los Cowboys jueguen su primer partido divisional del año contra los New York Giants, los aficionados del America's Team se preguntan ¿qué sigue para la ofensiva de los Dallas Cowboys? La ofensiva que tanto prometía hace un par de años, cuando Ezekiel Elliott y Dak Prescott lideraron a su equipo al primer sembrado de la NFC como novatos.

No se puede culpar a una sola persona por lo que sucedió el domingo pasado. La actuación fue tan deficiente que se tiene que señalar todo lo que falló. En primera instancia, hablemos del pésimo plan ofensivo de parte del coordinador de esta ofensiva, Scott Linehan.

Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan

Dallas Cowboys coaches Scott Linehan and Jason Garrett

Si algo hemos escuchado decir una y otra vez acerca de la ofensiva de Dak Prescott y los Cowboys es que es una sencilla, pero una difícil de vencer. Naturalmente, eso ha cambiado los últimos dos años. Esta ofensiva ya no debería de ser la misma que tomó a la liga por sorpresa en el 2016, no obstante, lo es.

En varias ocasiones, los Panthers no tuvieron ningún problema "telegrafiando" las jugadas de los Cowboys en cuanto sacaban el balón, resaltando la poca creatividad en la ofensiva de Linehan. Peor aún, en los momentos en los que se podría decir que fue creativo, lo fue en un mal sentido. Después de firmar y obtener a tantos receptores talentosos (que a pesar de no tener un claro #1, hay mucha profundidad), Dallas se alineó con dos tight ends en formaciones con cinco jugadores abiertos. ¿Por qué?

Esto le dio muy pocas oportunidades a Dak Prescott, quien hizo el problema más grande. Cuando tuvo esas pocas ventanas para lanzar profundo, la puntería del QB les costó bastantes series a los Cowboys. La más notable de estas, un pase profundo en la que el TE Blake Jarwin se había desmarcado y pudo haber llegado muy lejos, incluso quizá a la zona de anotación. En cambio, Prescott apenas llegó el balón a sus pies.

Sin embargo, la puntería profunda de Prescott es la menor de mis preocupaciones. Siempre hemos sabido que no es un Aaron Rodgers ni un Tom Brady. Lo que más me sorprende es la falta de calma de Dak. Siempre se le respetó por eso como novato, pero ahora se ve incomodó en el bolsillo, algo que tiene que cambiar inmediatamente puesto que era una de sus fortalezas.

Finalmente, la línea ofensiva, que se supone es una de las unidades más fuertes del equipo, se vio mal. La'el Collins y Tyron Smiths fueron responsables de múltiples castigos de holding, que terminaron matando series ofensivas. Connor Williams tuvo un debut bastante complicado contra el DT Kawann Short. Joe Looney, a pesar de ser un backup, se vio bien.

La pregunta de muchos es, ¿habrá cambios?

 1

La respuesta a corto plazo es un rotundo no. Nada cambiará en el equipo de coaches ni en la posición de quarterback durante este inicio de la campaña 2018. Sin embargo, si el equipo continua perdiendo y se llega a topar con un récord muy perdedor en la semana 8 o 9, preparémonos.

Comenzaré diciendo que el primer cambio que considero más probable es en la posición de coordinador ofensivo. Si bien Dak puede resultar no ser el mariscal franquicia que tantos queríamos, ¿no vale la pena verlo jugar bajo el mando de otro coordinador? Un coordinador que lo ponga en una mejor posición para tener éxito y que se encargue de reducir el aparente miedo que hay a la hora de lanzar a lo largo. Eso sería ideal para el desarrollo de Dak, si es que llega a haber cambios.

Lo mismo para Jason Garrett, quien para mantenerse vivo debe voltear el rumbo de su equipo ya que lo que vimos en la primera semana fue desastroso. Garrett podría estar en peligro si las cosas no cambian pronto, sobre todo considerando la presencia de alguien como el coach de la secundaria defensiva, Kris Richard.

Finalmente, hablemos de lo que le espera a Dak Prescott.

Si Dak no corrige su manera de jugar y continua actuando como lo hizo la primera semana, habrá problemas en su futuro. Considerando que una extensión de contrato se avecina, Dak tiene que demostrar que puede tomar ese siguiente paso. Esperemos que lo logre, porque al final de cuentas, esperamos que todos en el equipo mejoren, pero ¿qué pasa si no es así?

Un juego no es suficiente para quitarle el trabajo, pero una mala temporada podría serlo. Ya sea por agencia libre o por medio del NFL Draft, los Cowboys podrían estar buscando alternativas si Prescott continua con este nivel todo el año.

Personalmente, tengo fe en Prescott. Creo que a pesar de que no será un MVP que cargará al equipo a la gloria, puede hacerlo con un buen apoyo. Y francamente, creo que Dallas tiene justo eso. Simplemente hay que ejecutar. Puede ser la parte más difícil de todas, pero hay mucho talento en el roster como para ser limitados a ocho puntos.

Las primeras impresiones son duraderas, pero no siempre son ciertas. Esperemos que el equipo encuentre una manera de darle la vuelta al barco cuando se enfrenten a los Giants este domingo en el NBC Sunday Night Football que se transmitirá en ESPN 2 en México.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Sigue Para la Ofensiva de los Cowboys?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Film Review: Analyzing The Sacks Given Up Vs. Carolina

Kevin Brady

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Film Review: Analyzing The Sacks Given Up Vs. Carolina

There's no question the Dallas Cowboys passing game failed as a whole on Sunday in their season opener. But, as usual, everyone is looking to assign the blame to someone in particular.

Was it the offensive line? The receivers? The coaching? The quarterback? In reality, it was a little bit of everyone. The stars on the team did not perform to their ability, and the role players looked bad at times.

The Cowboys vaunted offensive line surrendered six sacks, and Dak Prescott appeared to be under duress all afternoon. Of course, this doesn't all fall on the offensive line, though. Prescott could not find open receivers down field often, even when they were there to be found.

So, once the All-22 came out on NFL Gamepass, I decided to take a look and see who's "fault" each of the six sacks was. Of the six (one of which looked more like failed quarterback draw) I placed three "on" the offensive line/pass protection and two "on" Dak Prescott.

Let's examine a few of these sacks in greater detail.

dalvscar2018 sack 1

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The first time the Panthers got to Prescott looked way too easy. Backed up in their own territory the Cowboys came out in the I-formation with a tight end inline on the right side. Prior to the snap Carolina shifts their weakside linebacker over the left tackle, creating a two-over-one situation on the backside.

This should have been a red-alert for a blitz, and should've been communicated across the line of scrimmage. Instead, with veteran center Travis Frederick out, there seemed to be communication issues.

Tyron Smith steps down to take care of his inside gap, allowing the blitzing weakside backer to run free. On paper, this should be Ezekiel Elliott's man, but that is a damn-near impossible block for him to make coming across the formation.

Still, it is his responsibility, and he fails to pick up that block. This sack falls "on" the pass protection, but it really has to do more with poor pre-snap communication.

dalvscar2018 sack 2

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Later on in the game we see one of the sacks which really falls on Dak Prescott. The Cowboys come out in trips to the near side, and Ezekiel Elliott and a tight end stacked to the right. Carolina once again shows two-over-one, this time over the right tackle.

This screams blitz, and Elliott is able to step up and take the blitzer head on this time. The interior is where this pass protection breaks down, as left guard Connor Williams gets flat-out beat by the 3 technique.

Despite being beat relatively quickly, there's no excuse for Prescott to take a sack here. He has his tight end flashing open quickly in the middle of the field, and has the option to tuck it and run with green grass in front of him if he doesn't want to try to fit it between zones as well.

Prescott has to process the coverage and blitz quicker here to avoid the negative play. He also has to run more often, but that's another point for another post.

dalvscar2018 sack 4th qr

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This third sack falls mostly on the offensive line, and once again can be attributed to poor communication on the interior. Carolina brings a bit of a modified cross-dog blitz, with the 2i technique defensive tackle occupying both Williams and Looney, allowing for the blitzing linebacker to run free through the b-gap.

Joe Looney and Connor Williams have to communicate this better. Williams completely turns his hips and shoulders rather than staying square, and is unable to slide off the 2i to the linebacker. Looney should take the down lineman over, allowing Williams to slide off.

This has more to do with lack of familiarity than anything else, and is actually somewhat encouraging. This should get better as the season goes on.

dalvscar2018 sack 4th qr 2

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dalvscar2018 sack 4th qr 2 wide view

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These final two clips are the same play, just from different angles. I wanted to highlight how sometimes, you just get beat, and I don't think you can really blame any one person alone.

From the end-zone angle you can clearly see Connor Williams get beat by the 3 technique once again, and on first view it appears the sack is his fault. But when you really look at the whole play progression, you see that both the play design and Dak Prescott are also to blame.

Carolina is in two-deep coverage attempting to avoid the big play. Dallas is already down multiple possessions and with time running out, they know they can just sit back and play this type of off-coverage.

Dallas is looking to push the ball vertically down the seams, but both deep safeties are able to sit on the hash and just wait for the receivers to reach them on their route. You could argue that Prescott should have hit the hitch route on the far side, but it doesn't appear to be on his radar.

Overall, Carolina just won on this play. Sometimes that happens, those guys get paid to play too.

If there's a conclusion to be drawn, it's that just about everyone was bad at Sunday. If Dak Prescott, the offensive line, Ezekiel Elliott, the receivers, and the coaches are all this bad going forward, it's going to be a long season.

But, as you can see, simply getting some familiarity with one another and communicating better should help this offense develop throughout the season.



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