A history of marijuana use still counts as an unsavory mark on football players coming out of college and entering the National Football League (NFL) draft, but NFL personnel officials say that use of the drug has become so widespread that it has almost become discounted as a measuring stick of a player's character, Sports Illustrated reported March 23.
“Marijuana use is almost epidemic, with more guys having tested positive for marijuana at some point in their college background than I can ever remember,” one personnel official told SI columnist Don Banks under condition of anonymity. “It's almost as if we are having to figure out a new way to evaluate it as part of the character and background report, because it's so prevalent. There're enough instances of it that it's hard to know how to set your board. You can't throw out that many guys. You have to go case-by-case and do your homework on them.”
NFL coaches said that there are 10 or 11 potential first-round picks in the 2010 draft who have a history of marijuana use. Some estimated that up to one-third of the draft class has used marijuana.
“It's something that's concerning to all coaches and general managers in this league,” according to an NFL head coach. “It has been trending the wrong way in recent years. But it's something that has to be dealt with from on high, at the league level, and not just dealt with on a club by club basis. It's partly a societal issue, but it's something we're having to deal with more and more.”
“It's pretty significant as a trend,” one head coach said. “But if you knocked everyone off your board who has experimented with weed, you'd lose about 20 percent of your board, not to mention disqualify a few recent presidents. A third sounds a little high to me, but it's not a rare occurrence to have a player with some pot use in his background. You have to make a judgment on each individual guy.”