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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

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" 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

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.



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Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?



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