Sunday, June 3, 2012

Should NFL Teams Draft or Sign Players With Prior Substance Abuse Issues?

There's been a rash of players lately who have been arrested for DWIs or DUIs recently. In recent days, Sportmentary has listed players who've had run-ins with law enforcement regarding being drunk while behind the wheel. These players include: Nick Fairley, Jeremy Fowler and Jusitn Blackmon (Arrested today).

Autographed Nick Fairley Photograph - 8x10 DRAFT COA
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In the cases of Fairley and Blackmon, they are repeat offenders. Fairey was recently arrested for a similar infraction earlier in the year and rookie Blackmon had been arrested while at college in Oklahoma. This begs the following question; Should NFL teams take a chance on a player who has had prior problems with substance abuse?

My response to that question has nothing to with moral values and everything to do with business decisions. I believe that alcohol and drug issues result from addictions. I believe that treatment is necessary for individuals facing those issues. I also believe that if individuals have substance abuse problems and receive treatment, they can be productive members of society.

For individuals who refuse to to seek treatment and who are habitual offenders, they are too much of a risk for an NFL team to take a chance on. There were questions about Blackmon. Since he had been arrested in Oklahoma for a a DUI, some people said that the Jacksonville Jaguars should pass on him.

I'm one of those people. I hadn't read anything that would lead me to believe that Blackmon was taking serious steps to correct his alcohol problems. I believe that people with alcohol issues, don't only have one problematic incident, they have multiple mishaps.

Fairley and Blackmon are proving that NFL teams are too trusting of players who mess around with dangerous substances. Teams that take a chance on these players have lots to risk. They risk missing out on players that can help them. They lose the PR battle and they tick off their fans. If they waste a draft pick on these players, they will have blown a potentially useful draft pick on a bust.

I think the stakes are too high. I think that a player who has had substance abuse problems, should have to prove that they've taken steps to clean themselves up, before an NFL team took the risk of signing them.

I also think that all teams should have clauses in contracts that void any contract where a player has been arrested for substance abuse related issues. The teams should be available to assist their players in getting clean but if that player crosses the line and they are arrested, all bets should be off.

That would place the responsibility on the player to get clean. It would be up to them so seek out help or assistance from their teams and substance abuse professionals.

I might be tough on the substance abuse issue but I believe that teams have too much to lose in taking a chance with a player that has prior incidents with substance abuse and hasn't received any help in getting clean. Teams should stay clear of that type of player.

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