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For Good Or Bad, Athletes Are People Too

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28:  Defensive lineman Nick Fairley of Auburn looks on during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – FEBRUARY 28: Defensive lineman Nick Fairley of Auburn looks on during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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By: Terry Foster

When Nick Fairley and Mikel Leshoure were arrested for bad driving and possession of marijuana people emailed me and said Lions coach Jim Schwartz has lost control of the team.

The same was said of manager Jim Leyland when Miguel Cabrera and Delmon Young got into trouble recently. It is not true. If you think this is the first time an athlete has gotten drunk, belligerent and drugged up in Detroit history you are kidding yourself. It happens all the time. It simply does not make headlines because we never hear of it.

In my more than 20 years of being a sports writer I’ve witnessed a bag full of condoms in an athlete’s bag. I was interviewing a former Tiger and was nudged by a reporter. I looked down and there was a big fat joint in the athlete’s bag.

I went to a concert once and a group of Lion players were enjoying themselves. One person in their party started smoking marijuana. No one said anything to the man. They kept on partying. I thought it was irresponsible and in an age of cell phone cameras they left themselves vulnerable.

I was on a Pistons road trip and as some of you know, I cannot sleep through the night. I woke up to get the morning paper. A married player was stumbling down the hallway with a woman who was not his wife. He saw me and smiled and put his finger up to his lips as if to be quiet.

When I was a Pistons beat writer I was pulled aside and told “What goes on the road stays on the road.” If you were a beat writer at some point you will see drunk athletes doing things they are not supposed to do.

These incidents happened before Jim Schwartz got to town. They happened before Lawrence Frank or Jim Leyland got to town. They happen all the time in every city, town and state.

There are a bunch of athletes who do not drink, do not smoke and do not get in trouble. There are others who like to smoke weed. The difference is they do not buy their own weed and drive around with it. They get somebody else to do the dirty work and they smoke in the privacy of their home away from police, the media and fans.

The NFL is such a violent sport that I believe players should be given medical marijuana to get through the week.

Delmon Young is not the first athlete to stumble into his hotel room at 3 in the morning and he is not the last. He foolishly got into an argument. And he needed a lesson from former Boston Celtics center Robert Parrish. Many years ago I was at a hotel when Parrish came stumbling in at 3 in the morning.

People saw him and called his name. Someone said they hated him because he played for the Celtics. He simply smiled, got on the elevator and went to his room. No one even knew of this because he did the right thing. Young should have done the same.

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