Sunday, May 1, 2016

Reefer madness

So here's what I hope now that the NFL Draft is finally over:

I hope the Miami Dolphins wind up splitting their sides laughing.

I hope Laremy Tunsil, the stud offensive lineman from Ole Miss the Fins got with the 13th pick, turns out to be what everyone thought he was before someone hacked his accounts and posted that video of him taking bong hits through a gas mask. No one knows who decided to ruin the biggest night in the kid's life by doing that, although there are prime suspects (i.e., the stepfather from hell who's currently making his life miserable). No one knows when the video was shot, although Tunsil says it's several years old. And no one can figure out why it caused NFL teams to run for their lives from the young man, who was originally projected as a top-three-or-four pick.

OK, so that last is not quite true. Let's just say I can't figure out why it caused NFL teams to run for their lives, except that they're NFL teams and they'll run from any kid who's ever done anything kids in college do all the time as a matter of course.

Admittedly, it's a creepy piece of video. The whole gas mask thing reminds you of Tommies huddled in the mud of the trenches on the Somme in World War I. And, yes, it depicts a commodity of some value ingesting marijuana, which the Shield apparently regards with the horror society in general regarded it, um, 40 some years ago.

Here's the thing, though: It's not 40 some years ago.

Marijuana is legal now in a handful of states, and its medical use to relieve pain is becoming widespread as users discover it A) works as well or better than opioids, and B) is nowhere nearly as  addictive. Which is a big reason why it'll likely be legal in most states before another two or three decades are out.

Yet the NFL continues to behave as if "Reefer Madness" -- the unintentionally hilarious public service film from the 1930s -- plays on an endless loop in Roger Goodell's head. That it still tests for weed as a banned substance is both an indictment of how out of touch the NFL is, and how blind it is to the fact that league-sanctioned trainers routinely dispense more powerful and addictive drugs just to keep players on the field.

Young people smoke weed now. They just do.  Outside the bubble of the NFL, it holds no more stigma than drinking a beer before you're of legal age. And I daresay a good chunk of America has done that.

Of course, video of an under-aged Tunsil drinking a beer would likely have sent NFL teams screaming into the night, too. It is, after all, the NFL, where the sky is always falling on both the wary and unwary. And it's the age of TMZ, when even the most innocuous of activities -- Eli Manning pounding beers at a party, for instance -- is regarded as scandalous.

In any event ... here's hoping the Miami Dolphins will someday have a good laugh at the expense of all their Chicken Little brethren.

A good, long laugh.

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