The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for

The latest fix


Maybe I've been around too long, maybe I'm naive. But I put the latest concoction that has Johnny Jolly suspended and JaMarcus Russell arrested -- the "purple drank'' -- in the category: "so what's new?''

In other words, someone will always find some sort of substance that appeals to young people -- not just athletes -- that will bend their minds and, eventually get them in trouble. More trouble these days, when there are more stringent penalties for substance abuse, but always some sort of trouble and sometimes in the ultimate kind -- serious injury or death.

If booze was the drug of choice in my days -- actually it was pot, with LSD for the more adventurous folks -- it was still a dangerous drug. I knew someone in high school who was permanent injured in a liquor-caused auto accident and another who died driving a motorcycle after imbibing far more than he should have. During my career, nearly a half-century now, I can name you at least a dozen colleagues who died prematurely from overusing alcohol -- journalists drinking themselves into a coma is not only a movie and television cliche, it's reality.

So yes, there always seem to be inventive folks finding ways to mix this with that and come up with something else and people willing to import and sell the regular hard stuff -- cocaine, heroin, etc. If this new concoction is finding its way around the NFL, then Jolly's suspension and Russell's arrest are likely to slow it down if not stop it -- missing a season is a major penalty, as is the salary hit they take.

When I was in my 20s, I thought I was invulnerable and I wasn't an elite athlete, who from before puberty is supposed to be physically immune from trouble. Back in the '50s, when Bobby Layne was playing quarterback for the Lions, part of his legend was that he'd show up for a game on Sunday still a little drunk from Saturday night. Max McGee was the star of the first Super Bowl playing with a hangover -- and that was on a team coached by Vince Lombardi.

So there's a new substance floating about?

Remember -- and I've been dying for years to find a place to write this -- Babe Ruth bragged about his beer consumption.

Babe Ruth played during Prohibition, when it was illegal to consume beer.

Never got him in trouble with baseball, but he died at age 53. Not exactly a testimony to his lifestyle.

We might be wringing our hands about substance abuse -- performance enhancing and otherwise. The people who are using it should look to shortened life spans.

Whether they get caught or not.

By Dave Goldberg  |  July 20, 2010; 12:10 AM ET  | Category:  Dave Goldberg , NFL Rules , Substance Abuse Policy Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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