By: Tony Ortiz
One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from the book ‘Goldfinger’ by Ian Fleming [yes, it’s a James Bond novel. This will all make sense soon, I promise]. The quote is from Auric Goldfinger, who tells Bond after meeting him for a third time that “once is happenstance, twice is coincidence…..three times is enemy action.” And that’s what the three marijuana-related arrests of Lions players in the off-season are: enemy action. The enemy, however, isn’t a billionaire bent on world domination – it’s a mindset involving young NFL players who believe that ‘weed’ is no big deal.
This isn’t a debate about whether marijuana should be legalized or not. However, NFL rules – which are the law of the land for players – state that marijuana is illegal. No black-and-white there. If you test positive for marijuana, you face penalties which could include a suspension. Period. Just because it’s the off-season is no excuse, because players still run the risk of being tested at any time.
Are Mikel Leshoure, Nick Fairley and Johnny Culbreath – for lack of a better term – ‘pot-heads’? No. Did they make mistakes? Definitely. Do they face penalties and a possible suspension from the NFL? Yes. Should they be traded or cut after these incidents? No. Can they learn from these mistakes? Yes.
That last question is important, because not learning from his mistakes with marijuana cost Charles Rogers his NFL career. In fact, the first question that should be asked of Leshoure, Fairley and Culbreath is this: is marijuana worth losing a way of life that so few men are able to enjoy? Hopefully, those three can see what happened to Rogers and be mature enough to understand that what was OK for you to do with your friends in college or in your old neighborhood isn’t OK for you to do as an NFL player. Excuses will only speed your exit out of a league where players are considered a ‘disposable commodity’, which can be replaced at the drop of a hat.
In the end, how Leshoure, Fairley and Culbreath will be remembered as NFL players will be determined by how they bounce back from their recent arrests. Everyone makes mistakes – it’s what makes us human – but when you start making the same mistakes over and over is when the problems begin. The Lions aren’t a franchise that can afford to waste second [and third] chances, which is why the next few months will be an important one for those players – and for the team.