Wednesday, May 14, 2014

COMMENTARY: Proposed NFL Drug Policy Makes NASCAR Look Good

Sometimes, NASCAR looks awfully good when compared to the competition. reported today that a newly negotiated National Football League drug policy will include a much higher threshold for positive marijuana tests and will reduce the punishment for failing such tests. That policy has been in the renegotiation process since 2011, with the league and NFL Players Association attempting to hammer out a new set of guidelines for the sport.

NASCAR’s substance abuse policy is ironclad by comparison. It expressly prohibits members from “using, having in their system, possessing, purchasing, selling and/or participating in the distribution of any drug that is illegal to possess, use, and/or distribute by the laws of the United States of America and/or any of its 50 states, regardless of the amount, at any time.”

The critical phrase in that policy is “regardless of the amount.” You cannot partake of banned substances – not even a little -- and hope to pass a NASCAR substance abuse test. First-time pot smokers, part-time pill poppers and full-time substance abusers are one and the same in the eyes of NASCAR, where zero tolerance is the law of the land.

Both NASCAR and the NFL enforce their respective policies in similar fashions. NASCAR issues immediate, indefinite and non-appealable suspensions for substance abuse violations. Like NASCAR’s Brian France, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also rules with an iron hand on matters of substance abuse, much to the chagrin of the NFL Players’ Association.

NFLPA president Eric Winston called the current system “un-American” recently, saying Goodell “wants to hold all the cards and be the judge, jury and executioner. We’re not going to go for (that).”
NASCAR has flirted with its own version of a player’s union, on two different occasions. In 1961, Curtis Turner and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters attempted to organize NASCAR drivers. That effort was stifled by NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr., who banned Turner for life before eventually relenting after a four-year banishment.

In September of 1969, a group of NASCAR drivers formed the Professional Drivers Association, boycotting a race at Talladega Superspeedway over safety concerns and unhappiness with posted purses. Richard Petty was president of the Association, which included fellow headline drivers Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker. France busted that union, as well, bringing in substitute drivers to run the race at Talladega. While Petty and company were allowed to continue as active NASCAR drivers, there has been no identifiable talk of a drivers’ union ever since.

NASCAR is almost certainly better off without an albatross like the NFLPA around its neck. It allows the sanctioning body to draw a clear line in the sand on matters such as substance abuse and enforce it to the letter, without anyone to argue that a little bit of marijuana is an acceptable pastime for a professional athlete.

As NASCAR fans, we need not worry about our favorite driver smoking “just a little bit” of pot the night before the big race. We can also be assured that if he does, the sanctioning body will not ignore – or worse, cover up – the presence of illicit substances in that driver’s system.

Thank you, NFL. You’re making us look pretty good.


  1. Anonymous7:51 PM

    And as more and more states deem marijuana legal for recreational use, will NASCAR continue to ignore the will of the land? NASCAR, proud to support the alcoholic beverage industry.

    1. Anonymous8:33 PM

      you speak the truth

  2. Robert G11:14 PM

    One big difference between NFL and NASCAR : very little chance someone could die if a player showed up with a banned substance in his system. Much more likely in racing.

  3. Try not to dislocate your shoulder patting yourself on the back. There is a considerable difference between playing football and driving a car. The abuse the human body is put through playing football can be helped by the medicinal effects of marijuana, which can remain in your system for some time without in any way impacting your ability to play safely. Driving a street or race car under the influence of anything needs to be closely regulated.

  4. Michael in SoCal11:05 AM

    So you can't smoke a joint the night before a race in Nascar without the possibility of getting banned indefinitely, but get back into a wrecked race car and come out onto the track solely to wreck another driver, try to do so on one lap and miss, then blatantly get into the back of that driver on the frontstretch of one of the fastest racetracks in Nascar and you only get three weeks probation? There's something wrong with Nascar's rules here.

  5. Anonymous12:04 PM

    Its comparing apples and oranges as far as I'm concerned. An NFL player high on weed isnt the same safety risk as someone driving a car at 200 mph. If safety is the key reason, I wouldnt expect the NFL's standards to be as high as NASCAR's regarding marijuana.

  6. Anonymous12:34 PM

    NFL has it right, NASCAR is too tough on Marijuana. I actually drive better when I smoke Marijuana.

    1. Really? Like a lot of drunks who feel the same way too, you're clearly in denial.

    2. Anonymous9:44 PM

      Dude your screwed..NASCAR will start pee test the fans will need to blow in your tv before the race can be veiwed