Today we discuss the ethics of the NFL punishing the Dallas Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory for a violation of a rule they plan to abolish anyway.
Dallas Cowboys defensive end, Randy Gregory, is currently serving an indefinite suspension for repeated violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The NFL is currently enforcing the banishment despite their change of position on the issue and the likelihood his “crimes” will soon no longer be considered “crimes” under the new CBA.
The NFLPA is universally in support of reforming the NFL’s archaic marijuana policy and all indications are the NFL itself has softened their stance and plan to concede on the issue for the next collective bargaining agreement. But by the NFL holding this change in philosophy purely as a bargaining chip in the next CBA negotiation, they are needlessly threatening the careers of players like Randy Gregory, simply for the sake of leverage.
Obviously, this is how negotiations work. Each side has a list of items they’d like to achieve and as the two sides meet in the middle, roughly half of those objective fall by the wayside.
if the NFL fully intends on conceding the issue and are only holding onto it as a bargaining chip, their ethics of delaying the change in policy should come under question.
The NFL knows players want alternative forms of treatment for pain and mental health and the NFL is even in support of it – starting a league-wide mental health initiative that will explore the use of marijuana for a variety of issues. But if the NFL waits to concede this at the CBA negotiations, that means they won’t need to concede something else.
Amidst the current opioid crisis, alternative medicine is long overdue and marijuana policies everywhere are changing as a result. But the NFL is seemingly hanging on – just so they can use it in their negotiations in the next CBA. While this makes sense from a negotiating perspective, it’s coming at the cost of some player’s careers.
This isn’t an either/or situation
There are folks who pin this 100 percent on the players. Simplifying the issue, they say the players broke the rules and now must pay the consequences. And in a way, they are right. Even if someone has a really good excuse (like Randy Gregory’s mental health), society must follow the rules.
But this isn’t a simple issue. It’s complex. It involves mental health and pain management. And given the dangers associated with opioids and the growing research supporting marijuana treatment, we seem to be vilifying the wrong drugs.
Even if some of us don’t support the use of marijuana for issues such as Gregory’s, we must recognize professional sports leagues like the NFL are starting to. And if the NFL fully intends on conceding the issue and are only holding onto it as a bargaining chip, their ethics of delaying the change in policy should come under question.
If the change in policy is a forgone conclusion (which many say it is), players like Randy Gregory and Josh Gordon are needless casualties. Their careers have been undeniably threatened because of an outdated policy no one in the league really supports.
If the only reason they can’t play right now is because the NFL wants to keep this in their back pocket for the 2021 negotiations, it’s an absolute tragedy.
There’s a lot of intolerance in some Dallas Cowboys circles concerning Randy Gregory’s repeated violations. But we’ve known for quite a while this isn’t a case of some spoiled athlete partying all night with his friends and using illicit drugs recreationally. Gregory’s use is said to be self-medication behind closed doors, spurned by mental health issues, not for fun and recreation.
But then again, even if it was just for fun, if the NFL is ruining careers for a cause they don’t even believe in, simply for the sake of negotiations, it’s their ethics that should be called into question.
Dallas Cowboys fans have reason for optimism. The NFL has already softened their enforcement of marijuana violations and appear to be customizing a plan to get Randy Gregory back on the field sooner rather than later. But if they plan to do away with marijuana testing anyway (like many pro franchises already have) why are they needlessly hurting careers at all?
- Published on 07/13/2019 at 12:30 PM
- Last updated at 07/12/2019 at 14:39 PM