The League

Michael Kun

Michael Kun

Co-author of The Football Uncyclopedia. He is also the author of six other books and is a practicing attorney.

Not a league-wide issue, yet


When I first read that JaMarcus Russell had been arrested for possession of cough syrup, I had to go back and reread the article three or four times to see if I was missing something.

Apparently I was missing something because the report I read never explained what was so problematic about possessing cough syrup. It didn't mention that the cough syrup in question was cough syrup that contained codeine. And, of course, it's the fact that it contained codeine that is the most important part of this story.

Other articles I've since read have included that critical fact, and have very helpfully explained that if you mix that cough syrup with alcohol, 7Up and a Jolly Rancher candy, you get "purple drank." I will leave it to you to find those articles yourself, and to read about the prevalence and dangers of "purple drank."

Now, Russell isn't the first NFL player to be arrested for possession of codeine. (Or, more accurately, "former" NFL player as Russell hasn't been picked up by any team since being released by the Raiders -- and isn't likely to be now, at least not this season.) So, too, was the Chargers late Terrence Kiel. And the Packers Johnny Jolly is headed to trial soon on charges that he possessed 200 grams of codeine.

Putting aside all innocent-until-proven-guilty issues, do these three cases mean that the NFL has a problem with "purple drank"?

Three cases is not a great many, although it is three more than you'd like to see.

That said, unless reports are wrong, the NFL is already testing for codeine. And NFL spokesman Greg Aiello has said he was unaware of there ever being any codeine-related suspensions. Unless he's playing semantics, that would suggest that there isn't a significant "purple drank" issue in the NFL.

(If there's been a "purple drank" problem in any of the other major sports -- MLB, NBA, NHL -- I haven't heard it. That doesn't mean that baseball or basketball players don't use "purple drank," just that it hasn't made the news.)

So, for now, this should be seen as a "JaMarcus Russell issue," not an "NFL issue."

The NFL has enough issues to deal with right now. (Note to Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith -- how's that new collective bargaining agreement coming along? Let me know if I can help.)

If more players get arrested for possession of codeine, or if they start testing positive for codeine, then we can deal with it as a larger issue.

By Michael Kun  |  July 20, 2010; 12:05 AM ET  | Category:  NFL , NFL Rules , Substance Abuse Policy Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Since this guy was so clueless even after reading about Russell who is he to say that its not a problem in the NFL. Two have been arrested. There are a whole bunch of them who are using it every day.

Posted by: MKadyman | July 20, 2010 4:53 PM

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