The League

Michael Oriard

Michael Oriard

An English professor at Oregon State University and the author of several books on football, including Brand NFL Making and Selling America's Favorite Sport and The End of Autumn Reflections on My Life in Football

More distraction than crisis


The latest drug "crisis" in the NFL over "purple drank" seems about as newsworthy as a foreign diplomat's parking ticket. I admit to general cluelessness about what's hot in recreational drugs, and the concoction of cough syrup, 7Up, and Jolly Ranchers sounds like it would be poured down the throats of grossed-out fraternity pledges rather than drunk willingly. But if the drug of choice is now codeine rather than ecstasy or peyote or whatever, I do not see how the NFL is at risk in any new way, despite last week's press release from the White House linking prescription drugs to a new national health problem. The substance may be different, but the issue is an old one for the NFL. "Purple drank" can now be added to the 1001 Ways that an NFL Player Can Get in Trouble, but if it calls for any response from Roger Goodell different from his dealings with other drug crimes to protect the NFL brand, I'm even more clueless than I think.

I always find it sad when someone who's achieved the fantasy and potential wealth of an NFL career throws them away, or even puts them in jeopardy. But this latest report from the NFL's dark side does not seem to be anything new. As public relations, it might even strangely serve the owners' interests by focusing attention on players' misbehavior and the commissioner's firm handling of such matters -- and his civic-minded response to a national health problem as well -- rather than on the NFL's own real crises, the prospect of a lockout in 2011 and the uncertainty over the game's long-term damage to players' bodies and brains.

By Michael Oriard  |  July 20, 2010; 12:03 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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I thought there was an impending lockout in the NBA the following year as well? You mean we could have a year without both football and basketball? Wow.

Posted by: forgetthis | July 23, 2010 3:08 PM

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