By Rich Tandler
This is the week where everyone in the media who covers the Redskins, and many who do not, to step up and take a whack at the piñata wearing number 83 on one side and 71 on the other.
I’ll get my swings out of the way quickly here since I don’t have much to add to what others have said. Fred Davis and Trent Williams hurt their team for the sake of having a good time and that was dumb, irresponsible, and selfish.
Where I will depart from what seems to be the conventional wisdom out there is when it comes to taking what happened here as some grand indictment of the two players and of the Redskins organization. I also think it would be a mistake to think that this means that Davis and Williams should be finished as members of the team.
Yes, smoking pot is against the rules of the NFL and, in most places, against the law. But in the grand scheme of all of the law breaking and rule breaking we see NFL players commit during the course of a year, this was pretty minor in terms of potential harm to themselves and, more importantly, to others.
Just take a gander here at the Police Blotter on Pro Football Talk. Just since the start of the season players have been arrested for discharging a firearm, reckless endangerment, assault, indecent assault and battery, domestic assault, stalking, and impaired driving. You can make your own judgment as to where puffing on weed falls in the scale of the seriousness of such misdeeds; it says here it rates somewhere near the bottom.
As far as the Redskins’ reputation goes, again, some perspective is needed. That PFT arrest report is dotted with members of the Packers, who have as good a reputation as any team in the NFL despite the continued drug activities of suspended defensive lineman Johnny Jolly and other members of the team having been arrested for assault and disorderly conduct this calendar year. Tight end Mark Chmura is in the Packers Hall of Fame despite an incident in 2000 that led to him being charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old who was babysitting his children. Chmura was acquitted of the charges but he said afterward that his conduct "wasn't something a married man should do."
But you don’t hear much about character problems on the Packers, possibly because they are winning. Being 12-0 and the Super Bowl champs is a great deodorant for arrests for hard drug and assault. Apparently being 4-8, as the Redskins are, means that having two players who smoked pot is some sort of indication of a rotting organization.
Should the fact that Davis and Williams will face one-year suspensions if they run afoul of the league’s drug policy again affect their futures with the team? Davis will be a free agent in the spring while Williams’ contract runs through 2015.
The could let Davis go as a free agent and perhaps move on from Williams in another year or so when the cap hit for getting rid of his contract would become more tolerable. There is a good chance, however, that doing so would be a dumb move, perhaps dumber than what Davis and Williams did to earn their suspensions in the first place.
The fact is that it seems that having that one-year suspension hanging over them like the Sword of Damocles tends to scare players straight. One player who is playing under that threat, Santonio Holmes, scored the go-ahead touchdown for the Jets last Sunday. Another, Minnesota’s Jared Allen, is second in the NFL in sacks with 14.5.
Allen, by the way, ran afoul of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy for getting charged with DUI twice in on year. Again, you can judge the seriousness of that offense, which clearly endangers innocent lives, compared to what Davis and Williams apparently did.
It is true that some, like Ricky Williams, continue to puff away despite the looming suspension and do end up getting suspended for a year. But those cases are few and far between.
I think that most of us would rather have players who were home by nine at night and then went out and tore up the opposition on Sundays. Unfortunately, young men who make a lot of money and who have the mental makeup it takes to thrive in the NFL aren’t the types who avoid socializing late at night. That doesn’t mean that they have to smoke pot, but we shouldn’t be shocked and want to run them out of town when they do.
The best thing to do in this situation is, as always, take a deep breath and look at things in perspective. You’ll find that this situation, while certainly not a positive development for the Redskins or for the two players involved, is not the disaster or indictment of the orgnization that some are making it out to be.