Because I can't begin this without that crazy drum intro from Scott Travis and then Rob Halford's leather-wearing vocals.
It's commonplace that on every job application, it will be stated that you could be subjected to random drug tests. I've worked many jobs in retail and in food, and I have yet to be drug tested; then again, why would I have to take one if I am in good standing with the company that I work for, and that I don't do any extremely heavy lifting? But on the other side of the coin, when there are suspicions, they wouldn't really be random now, are they?
You see, in certain job fields that require hard labor and physicality, this "off the wall" job application note will actually happen, and they will certainly be random. This was proven on Sunday when not one, not two, not even three or four, but FIVE NFL teams were subjected to investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). According to reports, it doesn't exactly seem like the friendliest welcome by these guys, either. The five teams (the Lions, Bengals, 49ers, Seahawks, and Buccaneers) and their respective medical staffs were greeted at the airports and later interrogated and subjected to bag checks. Reports also go on saying that these five teams were chosen because they were playing on the road. It doesn't make the most of sense in the world, but I guess we'll roll with that for the time being.
By watching a lot of media outlets over the past 24 hours, most notably ESPN and ABC News, they made it sound like this is an issue that just spurt from the loins of Hades. However, this isn't the case, as a very large number of former NFL players have stepped forward in the past six months and claimed that they were given large amounts of pain medication to cut the edge and keep playing on. If you've ever heard of the video game Blitz: The League or have heard of the short-lived ESPN series called Playmakers, it's the personal lives of football players and their temptations (and possible needs to medicate) on a realistic level. It's quite insane, when you sit down to think about it. It's insane for several reasons: (1) It blurs your perception of how well teams take care of their players, (2) It worries you on how "well" the player is physically as well as "upstairs," and (3) This has been going on for a really freaking long time.
It has gone on record from many athletes (especially those in the pro wrestling business) stating that they have had ongoing issues with painkiller addiction. When you're dealing with medications like Vicodin or Oxycontin, which are ridiculously addictive in nature, it will come as no surprise. At a time like this, I think back to that one discussion that I had with Andrew about soccer versus football, and how he said that a football player will undergo the equivalent of sixteen car crashes in a game based on the high-impact play. Players might not have any significant injuries after each game, but they're certainly sore afterward, regardless of how conditioned they may be. In my best shape, I would be practically dead the day after a soccer tournament, and at a point, I had a few of them per season. It wasn't to the degree of these players, of course; I was only trying to make a point. The quickest way to cut the edge off of soreness is to pop a Tylenol or Advil or whatever kind of pill you can buy at your local pharmacy. However, that could become a growing habit, and you can take them just to take them and not feel any pain, plus feeling the "sensations" that it brings along with it. Rest doesn't exist during a professional sports season, no matter whether there's a break or a bye week or what have you. You're in it for the long haul, or you're considered "disabled" or "physically unable to perform."
Grant it, it's good that the DEA is cracking down on these allegations, but on the other hand, I sort of want to shake my finger at the news outlets for making this a bigger deal than it really is. Did it cause a big scene at airports? Most likely. Does this mean that everybody in the NFL is in trouble? Not really. Sure, there may be a few players that could get caught; that remains to be seen. But this is a good indicator that there are staff members out there that are beginning to care for the players long before they leave the league. It has already begun with evaluating players for concussions. It is now being broken down more into "lesser pains," for the lack of a better term, and the psychological effects that stem from that as well, which in this case is addiction.
The key word that I had mentioned above is "beginning." You see, the DEA has been hovering around the NFL for several years, telling doctors and medical staff members what they can and cannot administer to players; then again, they pretty much do that with every sports organization, but I digress. This is the biggest crackdown so far, but even though it doesn't seem like there are any guilty parties in the matter (regardless of compliance), it's a step in the right direction. Players are pushed to their limits in more ways than one, and when the human body isn't given the right time to heal, more harm will be done than good. Now you'll not only have the physical problems, but the psychological problems as well. It's either nipped in the bud now, or you'll have a truckload of misery later.
Privacy is a good thing, but when there are people out there that are concerned about the health of their performers, there's a reason to be concerned and serious on the matter. I do feel bad for the organizations that have full innocence, but you know what they say...one bad apple can ruin the whole bunch.
(The article used for reference can be found here. Thanks for the fuel to my flame once again, ESPN!)