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ESPN - "We smoked it all"

Discussion in 'Football: NFL, College, High School' started by oomp, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. oomp

    oomp Contributing Member

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    http://espn.go.com/college-football...-ducks-deny-drug-culture-eugene-espn-magazine



    "We smoked it all"

    mar1juana and Eugene, Ore. are tied together like laces in a football


    Updated: April 18, 2012, 11:44 AM ET
    By Sam Alipour | ESPN The Magazine


    Jamie Chung for ESPN The MagazineA recent study said that athletes claim smoking pot before a game helps them focus.

    This story appears in the April 30, 2012 NFL Draft issue of ESPN The Magazine. Subscribe today!


    THE SANDWICH BAG brims with weed.


    On a frosty January evening in Eugene, a University of Oregon student plops onto a couch, nestled between a whirring space heater and a muted television at a friend's off-campus apartment, and pulls a nugget from the bag. At his feet sits a backpack emblazoned with the logo of the Rose Bowl, which he and his teammates had won barely a week before. "Purple Kush," he says of his preferred mar1juana strand, which he rolls into a hefty joint between his forefingers and thumbs. "It's pretty much all I smoke."

    The joint, to which he adds a dash of tobacco to make a spliff, is typical for this student-athlete. "Bongs and pipes mean more evidence," he says. He lights up, kicks back and exhales a dense cloud. Normally, he'd pass the spliff to one of his Oregon football teammates, but tonight he smokes alone. "Most of the guys are waiting until after winter workouts," he says. Once those conclude in March, he adds, they'll gather in clusters to partake together. About half the team smokes, he estimates. "It's a team thing. Like video games."

    The Ducks are savoring their win over Wisconsin, Oregon's first victory in a Rose Bowl since 1917 and Chip Kelly's first postseason triumph as head coach. Earlier today, the school buzzed as the team made its victory lap around campus. Now, as one Duck relishes another kind of high, he wants to make something clear.

    "It's not just us," he says, taking another hit. "If you think Oregon's the only team smoking weed, you're crazy."

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NEWS FLASH: COLLEGE kids smoke weed. That includes, according to an NCAA study released in January, 22.6 percent of athletes -- up 1.4 percentage points from the previous study in 2005. College football players (26.7 percent) ranked the highest among major sports. And the Oregon football program provides an interesting case study on the impact -- or lack thereof -- of mar1juana use among players. (AD Rob Mullens and Kelly declined to comment for this story.)


    It's the weed capital of the world. Long dreads. Girls with hairy armpits. Where there's hippies, there's weed.
    ” -- Former Oregon Duck Reuben Droughns
    Situated in the lush Pacific Northwest, Oregon, as well as its southern and northern neighbors, California and Washington, are three of the country's largest producers of weed, earning the Drug Enforcement Agency's designation as an "M7 state," or a primary cultivator of mar1juana. Perhaps because of the state's location, Oregon residents have long shown a tolerance for the drug. In 1973, the state was the first in the country to decriminalize possession for small amounts of pot, and 25 years later, Oregon became one of the first to legalize medical mar1juana and now claims more than 55,000 card-carrying patients.


    Nowhere is Oregon's laissez-faire approach to mar1juana more apparent than Eugene, the state's counterculture and cannabis capital. "Business here is almost overwhelming," says a student-dealer who lives on -- no joke -- High Street. "Here, everybody smokes." Not surprisingly, The Princeton Review and High Times both have ranked the University of Oregon among the most pot-friendly schools. Another telltale, anecdotal sign: Into the 1990s, the Grateful Dead made Autzen Stadium a regular tour stop. "It's the weed capital of the world," says former Duck Reuben Droughns. "Long dreads. Girls with hairy armpits. Where there's hippies, there's weed."

    The school's football program reflects those realities. In interviews with The Magazine, 19 current or former Oregon players and officials revealed widespread mar1juana use by football players for at least the past 15 years. Former Ducks, including current pros, estimate between 40 percent and 60 percent of their teammates puffed; current Ducks say that range remains accurate.

    The past several years, some of those players have found their way into the police blotter. Former receiver Derrick Jones (now with the Raiders) was suspended indefinitely from the team in 2007 following a citation for "frequenting a drug house." Two years ago, star QB Jeremiah Masoli (now in the Canadian Football League) was dismissed after, among other transgressions, being cited for possession during a traffic stop. One of the more memorable incidents happened in June, when Oregon state police pulled over a Nissan Altima after clocking it at 118 mph about 45 miles north of Eugene on Interstate 5. The car, which carried three passengers, smelled of pot, according to the police report. At the wheel was Cliff Harris, Oregon's standout cornerback/punt returner on the team that lost the 2010 national championship game to Auburn; also in the car was Ducks starting QB Darron Thomas.

    "Who's got the mar1juana in the car?" asked the officer, who would later note Harris looked tired and that his eyes were "blown."
    Harris' reply? "We smoked it all."

    His nonchalance seemed brazen, almost to the point of shocking. Should it be, though? Americans are "living in an environment where there's a greater tolerance of use, not just among the young and experimenters but also the old and afflicted," says Harry Edwards, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus of sports sociology who works with major sports leagues on off-field issues. Recently, the researchers of a study in Sports Medicine wrote that athletes claim "smoking cannabis before play helps them focus better" and increases their creativity, and prior studies have found use among athletes to decrease anxiety, fear, depression and tension.

    With social mores shifting toward wider acceptance, as they did long ago in Oregon, athletes who toke see little difference between mar1juana and more acceptable, legal drugs, such as alcohol. Spend a night with an off-duty pro and you're more likely to see him high than drunk. One NBA player's recent charity event devolved into players from rival teams hotboxing the DJ booth and bonding over blunts. At another fundraiser, Snoop Dogg asked the audience -- many of whom were NFL and NBA players -- to pass him some weed, and they showered him with flaming joints. One professional athlete likes to tell the story of a traffic stop that ended with the officer telling him to leave his weed at home -- "and good luck this season."

    "Being an athlete does not insulate one from those kinds of involvements, especially since the drug is closely tied to socializing," says Edwards.

    And few social cliques are as insular as student-athletes, who live, study, practice, eat and travel together for months at a time. Many Ducks consider group smokes an unsanctioned team activity. "In a weird way, it helps you bond," says Droughns. For the most part, athletes see pot simply as harmless fun -- "happy time," says ex-Duck Onterrio Smith, who, as a member of the Minnesota Vikings in 2005, was nabbed by airport security with an Original Whizzinator, a fake penis apparatus used to beat drug tests. (Smith says he no longer smokes.)

    Ducks say Eugene comes with its own set of herb-enabling circumstances, namely the area's inclement weather. Former Ducks star Saladin McCullough, who smoked while playing in the 1990s, says Oregon's rain tends to facilitate two hobbies: "Video games and weed."



    We factor in mar1juana as a red flag. Some teams, if a guy tests positive, he's off their board. But other teams say, 'Screw it, he's a good player.'"
    ” -- An NFL scout
    Consider the typical realities of college life, including peer pressure, experimentation and free time, and add the atypical challenges of being a college football player, such as pain and a stressful workload, and mar1juana's prevalence is anything but surprising. "Let's be honest," says Fenuki Tupou, an Oregon alum now with the Saints. "When you're bored, it's not like you're going to read a book."

    Tupou says he never smoked, and it's not as if other players blaze at the corner of 13th and Kincaid. At Oregon, there is a long tradition of players policing themselves. Several Ducks reference a "code" followed by teammates who handle weed-related matters in-house on a case-to-case basis. "Some guys who use mar1juana go out and ball because they're relaxed," says former QB Akili Smith, "but if it affects his play, you sit him down and tell him, 'Yo, it's not for you.'?" Today, that code still stands. "If you're not hurting the team, everyone's cool with it," says a current Ducks player.

    They also pass down lessons, from one class to another, to help avoid detection: Buy through friends rather than dealers; keep it away from campus; if you think a test is coming, ask for detox information, which "is shared between teams and by NFL guys too," says another current player; and never smoke in public or at parties. "We're celebrities here," says another Duck.

    Those in charge aren't blind to the challenges their athletes face. Just ask Bill Moos, who was Oregon's athletic director from 1995 to 2007 and has been Washington State's AD since 2010. "These young people are growing up in a culture where smoking a joint is no different than having a beer," he says.

    However, local laws sometimes hamper the detection-and-discipline efforts of athletic programs. Mike Bellotti, Oregon head coach from 1995 to 2008, laments a state law that allows schools to test athletes only when probable cause exists. "I think every college has a problem with mar1juana," says Bellotti, who's now an ESPN commentator, "but it's a greater problem where you don't have the lever of random testing."

    Moos estimates that he nabbed two dozen dope-smoking Ducks, across all sports, during his 12 years in Eugene. So far at Wazzu he's dealt with no fewer than eight athletes for mar1juana-related issues, despite a probable- cause law in Washington that's similar to Oregon's. His Wazzu policy, which is three strikes and you're out, "may have a bit more bite to it" than the policy he had at Oregon, Moos says, in part because he's now given his coaches the option of implementing their own zero-tolerance rule. "We still have a ways to go," he says, "but we're sending a message."

    The Oregon regime is also cracking down. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Kelly has taken a hard stance in his three seasons as head coach. "I've heard weed was bigger before I got there," says one Kelly-era Duck, "but Chip cracked down on that. He'll actually attend classes with guys. If you miss a study hall, he'll drug-test you."

    Edwards, who has counted Kelly's program as a client, vouches for the coach. "I assure you, this is not a University of Oregon issue; this is an American issue," he says. "Chip is very much interested in safeguarding the futures of his athletes and making sure he runs a tight ship."


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    THERE IS ONE more group that factors into this equation, one with more influence than the NCAA, college administrators or coaches -- the NFL, which is decidedly undecided on the subject. "We factor in mar1juana as a red flag," says one scout. "Some teams, if a guy tests positive, he's off their board. But other teams say, 'Screw it, he's a good player.'" Another scout says his team raises the flag only after three positive tests. "More players do it than don't, in both college and the NFL," the scout says.

    That's an attitude of tolerance that has mostly changed during the past decade or so. It was only in 1995 that Warren Sapp, arguably the best player in the draft, went 12th after reportedly testing positive for weed at the combine. Three years later, Randy Moss dropped to a low first-round pick partially because of multiple mar1juana charges. But this year, Dre Kirkpatrick, the top corner on Alabama's national championship team, has barely budged from his mid-first-round status despite being arrested on suspicion of mar1juana possession. Perhaps that's because charges were later dropped.

    Meanwhile, after missing most of last season, ex-Oregon corner Harris is still looking like a middle-round pick. As a sophomore in 2010, he was considered by some analysts to be among the nation's best cover men and pure athletes after leading the Pac-10 with six interceptions and setting a school record with four punt-return TDs. After that June speeding incident (Harris passed a sobriety field test, and no mar1juana was found), for which he was suspended from the season opener against LSU, the All-American saw action in only six games. In October, he was cited again -- for not wearing a seat belt -- resulting in an indefinite suspension from team activities. During a visit to his hometown of Fresno, Calif., in November, Harris was cited for possession of less than an ounce of mar1juana and booted from the team. "It's a situation where he's clearly into stuff off the field," says ESPN analyst Mel Kiper. "Scouts wonder: Has he lost focus? Is the work ethic there?"

    After signing with superagent Eugene Parker, Harris set about turning the opinions of NFL personnel with a series of forthcoming interviews. "I was young, I was dumb, I made a couple of bonehead moves," Harris told reporters at the NFL combine in February. "I'm ready to prove I'm not going to make those same mistakes."

    Which is exactly what scouts want to hear.

    As weed has spread throughout college football, more often than not draft prospects elect to come clean. One senior NFL executive who interviewed players at the combine says about 70 percent confessed to smoking pot, likely on the advice of their agents. Their reasoning? Given the drug's popularity, if players deny having used weed, NFL teams will simply assume they're lying. One agent goes so far as to say that teams don't care about mar1juana as much as character and integrity -- implying that the lie would be far worse than the drug use.

    The NFL's stance puts the issue of mar1juana squarely in the laps of college football programs. How can you prevent a player from using when the game's top talent evaluators practically want to hear that he's smoked?

    Answer: You don't, really. You just hope your players don't get caught.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    BACK AT THE off-campus apartment, a muted celebration continues. The smoking Duck appears to be coming down from his high, and he's hungry. He says he'll probably order in, play NBA 2K11 on the Xbox 360 and call it a night. "Some guys drink beer," he says. "They'll get drunk, act crazy, get in trouble. I don't like beer. I like to chill and smoke weed."

    Above all, he likes to win football games, a task that will be made more difficult for the Ducks with the departures of stars Thomas and running back LaMichael James to the NFL. To ensure that one of college football's powerhouse programs stays on top, these Ducks will have to put in some work, starting in a few days when they play host to the nation's best prospects on their official recruiting visits. Then, after winter conditioning, there will be another reprieve and, this Duck hopes, more hazy, team- bonding sessions. "Some of us smoke," he says, "and then we went out and won the Rose Bowl.

    "Know what I mean?"

    Follow The Mag on Twitter (@ESPNmag) and like us on Facebook.
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. ashiin

    ashiin Member

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    Good article, I would probably treat smoking mar1juana like smoking cigarettes, and it really does make more sense on the players part to want to chill instead of getting drunk and possibly ****ing up by getting in a fight or something.
     
  3. Plowman

    Plowman Contributing Member
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    Interesting piece - Gracias
     
  4. MoonDogg

    MoonDogg Member

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  5. TheRealist137

    TheRealist137 Member

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    mar1juana isn't really illegal anymore, especially on the west coast. That stuff was getting smoked like cigarettes during coachella and no one cared.
     
  6. HombreDeHierro

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    this is an awesome piece.
     
  7. seclusion

    seclusion rip chadwick

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    Just cus it's being smoked doesn't make it legal. There was about 4 different joints being passed around within 20 feet of us at the Radiohead concert @ toyota center. I'm kinda shocked no one got in trouble for that.
     
  8. Dairy Ashford

    Dairy Ashford Member

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    In the context of grades and graduation rates I kinda sorta maybe wish these guys in particular didn't do this.

    Was this punctuated correctly? Did his voice go up at the end?
     
  9. Apps

    Apps Member

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    There is nothing more annoying than stoners who keep claiming that smoking "makes them better" at *****.
     
  10. Plowman

    Plowman Contributing Member
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    Apps, you've already demonstrated you have no clue as to the reality of the situation. In fact, this sounds like the stereotypical/ancient/reactionary response of ignorance that has been trumpeted from the rooftops for a coon's age.
     
  11. bobmarley

    bobmarley Contributing Member

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    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  12. Apps

    Apps Member

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    First of all, I was referring to this: "A recent study said that athletes claim smoking pot before a game helps them focus."

    Second of all, being someone who has had extensive experience with the drug myself, I was not saying that it's impossible that pot can help you "be better at things", as it very much IS possible (I've seen people hit their stride at chess, darts, certain video games, so on), I am simply saying that it is annoying when stoners go on and on and on about it, especially when they are talking about stuff that pot DOESN'T make them better at (physical activities and driving are good examples).

    Your over-reaction to my post was very amusing, though.
     
  13. MoonDogg

    MoonDogg Member

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  14. Apps

    Apps Member

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    Listen, man, I'm very well aware of the natural chemicals that are released in the brain and how they parallel the ones found in mar1juana and how the effects of mar1juana are very similar to the chemicals released in the brain. However, if you honestly believe that getting blasted off your ass and going on and on about how awesome you'd be if someone gave you a football right now ISN'T annoying, you're kidding yourself.

    Plus, mar1juana would probably help your body and brain relax when you're running or doing aerobic exercises (which is almost exclusively what that article concerns itself about, by the way), but when you have to do something that is involved with twitch-reflexes, physical pain, and psychological intimidation, I doubt the results would be so positive.
     
  15. sammy

    sammy Contributing Member

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    In before the CaseyH and DD hate.
     
  16. MoonDogg

    MoonDogg Member

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    Physical pain? Got that covered too...
    mar1juana Provides Pain Relief, New Study Says

    Obviously there's people that experience functional degradation in many areas when smoking the herb, but not all in all areas. So free up your mind and refrain from making blanket statements.
     
  17. Apps

    Apps Member

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    The absolute irony here is that you accuse me of making blanket statements, yet you respond to me with blanketing evidence that doesn't even relate to what I'm saying. I am ALSO well aware that mar1juana is great for pain reduction and pain relief (as evidenced for its usage on cancer patients and recovering post-surgery patients), but it does not, in anyway, ABNEGATE pain or stop your body from breaking/becoming injured WHILE you are high (which is part of the point I was making).

    I said: "...when you have to do something that is involved with twitch-reflexes, physical pain, and psychological intimidation, I doubt the results would be so positive. ..."

    So your article that proves weed is good for pain relief and pain reduction does not actually disprove what I said. I was merely pointing out that when you do something that INVOLVES physical pain, I doubt that your physical results would be so positive. Just because weed has that pain-reducing effect, does not mean that the user is going to be or even feel exempt from pain. They will still experience pain, and the psychological intimidation that comes from pain will be all that is needed to accentuate it.

    And that whole "open your mind" crap wears really thin, especially given that I have had a significant number of hallucinogenic and mind-altering experiences, and have more than an "open mind". I think having an open mind should include being able to look at your lifestyle and how you live (smoking mar1juana, for example) in a critical light and understanding where it has its benefits and where it has its deficiencies. Some stoners' (not all, before you excuse me of "blanket statements" :rolleyes:) complete involuntariness towards even looking at pot in a critical light is the epitome of CLOSE-MINDEDNESS, yet everyone else are the ones that need to "free their minds". Take a look at me, for example. I come in here with NO "anti-pot" stance (and if you disagree, take a look at my posts. Not a single anti-pot statement), having many friends who do it themselves and having a lengthy history with it myself, yet I make one simple comment about how stoners are annoying when they overrate their ability to do things when they're high, and all of a sudden I need to "free my mind" and "stop making blanket statements". But have you realized that none of what I have said, in its literal sense, has actually been disproved by your articles? Probably not.
     
  18. LOLatSoccer

    LOLatSoccer Member

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    The Government has made mar1juana Illegal for numerous reasons, and all for money

    Why make something illegal that would imensely cure obesity, and mental illness.
     
  19. LOLatSoccer

    LOLatSoccer Member

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    Although i do not smoke weed at all
     
  20. Rip Van Rocket

    Rip Van Rocket Contributing Member

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    Well, I would like to suggest that you stop hanging out with "stoners", or clicking on threads about mar1juana if you are that annoyed.

    Just for the record. I don't use mar1juana, But I'm tired of my tax dollars going to fighting a war that will never be won. Therefore, I do support mar1juana being controlled like alcohol and tobacco.

    I thought the article was interesting, but not surprising. I wouldn't think that weed would make someone a better football player. But If that's what someone else believes, then that's fine with me. Just my opinion, hope I didn't annoy anyone.:)
     

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