Numerous NFL Prospects Fail Drug Tests During Scouting Combine

By McCarton Ackerman 05/07/14

The rash of failed drug tests among some of the NFL's top recruits was yet another black eye for a sport recently plagued by drug and alcohol problems.

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More than 10 NFL prospects have failed drug tests at a recent scouting combine, raising further concerns about drug use in pro football.

Among the names on the list are Louisiana State University quarterback Zach Mettenberger and Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. University of Miami tackle Seantrel Henderson also tested positive for marijuana. The numerous positive tests are also surprising because the players were all aware they would be screened during the combine and could have stopped using well in advance.

Mettenberger claims that he had a diluted sample - considered a failed test by the NFL - from drinking extra water after cramping during his rehab for a torn ACL. He is expected to challenge the positive result. His agent, Joe Linta, said he provided medical documentation to Dr. Lawrence Brown, the league’s advisor for drugs of abuse, alcohol, and HIV.

Drug and alcohol problems have plagued the league among the professional ranks in recent years. Last February, Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis was suspended after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy for the second time and then receiving a DUI within 24 hours. In a prepared statement, he said that his second violation came from taking a supplement that he wasn’t aware contained a banned substance. His first violation came from testing positive for marijuana.

“For over two years, I've worked very hard to eliminate marijuana from my life, and I have not had a positive test for it since 2011. Unfortunately, a couple of months ago I took a supplement that contained a banned substance,” he said. The NFL Policy is strict, and not knowing that a supplement might contain a banned substance doesn't excuse a violation of the policy. "I've worked closely with the NFLPA and NFL to resolve this violation, and I will be permitted to apply for reinstatement in the fall.”

Since March 2013, NFL players have been arrested 27 times on drug and alcohol-related charges, and many have been suspended for violating the league's substance policy. Among the big names suspended were Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, New York Jets tight end Kellen Winslow, and Seattle Seahawks cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.