Marijuana use by some of the current crop of draftees in the National Football League (NFL) is causing less concern among teams than has been the case in recent years, the Tampa Tribune reported April 23.
In the past, a rumor or accusation of a college athlete being involved in use of illicit drugs would have resulted in the player going undrafted or picked in the later rounds of the draft. But the current attitude among some teams is to consider the possibility of the player transcending his situation.
“Even if a kid had an issue and it was true, we feel like we’d like to be able to help them,” said former San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions coach Steve Mariucci. “We’d like to be able to put them into an environment that he can change some of his social habits if he has a problem.”
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer coach John Gruden agreed, adding that some players “deserve an opportunity to live their life like you know they can live it, and they need some guidance and they need some structure around them.”
Not all teams react to drug concerns the same way, however. “The teams that have been burned by an off-the-field issue . . . are going to shy away,” said Mel Kiper Jr., an NFL draft analyst. “If teams have had good success and managed kids properly once they’ve gotten into the NFL, they figure, ’Hey, they matured. This is something we can deal with.’”