Yet Another NFL Player Gets Suspended for Substance Abuse

By McCarton Ackerman 08/26/14

Kicker Matt Prater was suspended following a DUI hit-and-run in 2011.

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Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater was facing a year-long suspension from the NFL over a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, but has managed to negotiate his punishment down to just four games.

Prater was charged with DUI and leaving the scene of a crash in August 2011, and has been enrolled in the league’s alcohol program ever since. His attorney, Harvey Steinberg, said the NFL star only had a “couple beers” while on vacation and suggested that the league’s policy should be revised.

"No one feels worse about this than Matt Prater," said Steinberg. "He feels terribly for his teammates. It's cost him personally, both professionally and financially. I wonder if we shouldn't take a second look at the policy when only a couple beers were consumed at home while he was on vacation. Having said that, the NFL under the constraints of the policy couldn't have treated us better."

It is unclear what stage of the league’s intervention program that Prater was in, although suspensions can only be administered once a player is in Stage Two. A player moves to Stage Three as a result of two positive tests, two instances of non-compliance, or one of each. Stage Three is the only stage where one year suspensions are doled out.

Once a player moves into Stage Two, they become subject to random drug testing. Tampering with specimens or missing a test because they failed to inform the medical director that they would be on vacation also counts as a positive test. But the current policy language only allows a player to be suspended for one year if they were previously suspended during their time in the program.

Earlier this month, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick was suspended for four games after testing positive for MDMA. He claimed to have taken the substance unknowingly, but accepted the consequences for his actions after an unsuccessful appeal last April.

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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.