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April 15 - Weeding Out the Problem

Early on in an NFL player’s career, he must learn to be responsible. On the field, that means executing
plays. Off the field, that means buying cars and jewelry for himself and his posse. But the most
important responsibility for an NFL player today is retaining qualified legal counsel. Four prospective
NFL draftees learned that before their careers even started.

NFL teams should expect to receive extensive presentations on the unreliable nature of drug tests in the
next week. Representatives for Clemson's Eric Coleman, Bowie State's Atcheson Conway and
Wisconsin's Anttaj Hawthorne and Jonathon Clinkscale are already working on these reports after
finding out their clients tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine.

How could these players let something like this happen? It’s not as though the date for the combine
was announced a week before the event. It’s not as though the players didn’t know it was coming. How
could they be stupid enough to choose marijuana over thousands or even millions of dollars?

It’s easy to write this off as these guys being young and not knowing any better, but their age gives them
even less of an excuse. Anyone who went to college knows that there are plenty of people at every
school that enjoy marijuana a great deal. Any of these stoners could, probably off the top of their head,
educate you on how to prepare for and pass a drug test. These stoners must know this information
because they occasionally need a job to support their habit. Seeing as how these four players are in
college, it is shocking that they would neglect such an available resource, especially at a party school
like Wisconsin.

Steps must be taken to help players like Hawthorne, Clinkscale, Coleman and Conway get through the
NFL combine without their previous indiscretions coming back to haunt them. A few simple changes to
the preparation that NFL prospects go through to get ready for the combine and on-campus workouts
can prevent this problem from popping up for any NFL hopeful.

1) Athletic departments should hire stoners as tutors for the players.
The genius in this plan is twofold. Not only can the stoners teach the players how to successfully beat a
drug test, this will give a few stoners at each university a much-needed job that will make sure that rent
gets paid on time for once at a few apartments near campus.

2) Give the athletic department tutors special instructions on curriculum.
Several student-athletes have tutors to help them with their rigorous academic workload, especially
during the season. It’s difficult enough to go to class and spend as much time on the field as these
athletes do, so have the tutors help out with one more subject. Before the NFL combine, tutors should
be instructed to pull out a calendar with two dates marked clearly. Using this visual aid, the tutors can
tell the players what day the players must put their pipe down or risk testing positive for marijuana at the
combine. Considering that the players are smoking, better remind them a few times of this date. They
might forget.

3) Universities should look to sign a “masking agent” endorsement.
Ricky Williams let the whole world know about masking agents during his retirement from the NFL.
These drinks can mask any signs of marijuana in the body, allowing “dirty” players to appear “clean”
when tested. These drinks could be readily available to NFL hopefuls around the country as soon as
schools can work out a deal with a company that produces these drinks. Not only do the players skate
by, the schools can maximize their revenue in the process and buy the women’s lacrosse team new
sticks. If a school wanted to take this idea to the next level, the masking agent could sponsor a “green”
room in the athletic complex of the school.

The current system has failed these four players as well as several others over the years. Hawthorne,
who was already slipping down draft boards, might last until the third round after being projected as a
first rounder months ago. The sluggish off-season he had while smoking marijuana and the positive
test will cost him thousands if not millions of dollars. Adopting the few suggested steps should allow us
to focus on the draft and the annual question of whether Mel Kiper Jr. sleeps with a hairnet, or if he just
tars it each morning.

In all seriousness, seeing players like this throw away money by doing drugs is frustrating to the
average fan that would do anything for the opportunity that these players have. The only positive to come
out of the entire situation is these positive tests will allow the Raiders to draft these players a round or
two later than earlier anticipated.