Athletes flirting with Mary Jane

Marijuana use has been around the world of sports for decades. It is no secret that many athletes love their dope. But with legalization for the drug being pushed further and further, how will that affect the athletes?

Marijuana scandals have generally tampered an athlete’s image. Former NFL running back Ricky Williams is probably the most infamous pot smoker of the bunch. I might actually get a contact high from just writing about him. Williams is one of the most intriguing and unique individuals on the planet. The words that come out of his mouth are borderline brilliant and psychiatric-hospital bound. Williams is also one of few athletes open about his admiration for weed. He has tested positive for use on four separate occasions and was suspended for the 2004 and 2006 NFL seasons.

During the downward spiral that led to his dog fighting charges, current Philadelphia Eagle quarterback Michael Vick was caught in another legal situation. In 2007, Vick was arrested for the second time in three months after being unwilling to surrender a water bottle that smelled like weed to security at Miami International Airport. Vick eventually avoided receiving any charges and was able to board the plane to Atlanta. The situation may have been embarrassing to the dual-threat quarterback, but to our enjoyment it turned into one of the funniest Saturday Night Live skits — “Really?! With Seth and Amy.”

In 2009 a photograph was made public of U.S. Olympic hero Michael Phelps using a “water pipe,” or more commonly known as a bong, less than a year after the Beijing Summer Olympics. Phelps admitted that the image was authentic and apologized for his actions saying his behavior was “inappropriate.” This ordeal resulted in Phelps losing his multi-million-dollar Kellogg’s sponsorship and a three-month suspension from USA Swimming.

Two-time Cy Young Award and two-time World Series Champion pitcher Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants was also cited with marijuana in 2009. This surprised no one due to that fact that Lincecum could be casted as a high school stoner in a Hollywood production. Washington State Patrol found the San Francisco ace holding 3.3 grams and charged him with a misdemeanor. But unlike most marijuana scandals Lincecum, for the most part, was embraced by the San Francisco fans. The “Let Timmy Smoke” t-shirt was popularly worn by those in attendance at the 2010 World Series Parade.

Marijuana has also been the gate way to hindering careers for young phenoms such as Todd Marinovich and Chris Herren.

Marinovich was born and bred to be a star quarterback, and gave up his childhood to do so. He had never eaten a Big Mac or an Oreo cookie, and stayed in to train instead of going out to play with other kids.
In 1988, Marinovich broke a national record with 9,914 career high school passing yards, but when the pressure to succeed became insurmountable the prodigy became better known as Todd “Marijuana-vich” his senior year. Not long after that he became Todd “EveryDrugEverMade-vich.” During his NFL career with the Los Angeles Raiders, he spent more time with Charlie Sheen snorting cocaine off hookers’ bodies than he did on the practice field.

Herren was ranked the best high school basketball player in 1994 by multiple media publications, and had a seemingly promising future in college and in the pros. But his career was halted by one of the biggest drug addictions in sports history. It started with a little good-good in high school, but in college when he was introduced to cocaine he acquired a need for a fix that was un-fixable. It eventually came to the point where he would pawn his kids toys just so he had enough money to buy some crystal meth.

Herren has seven felonies on his record; all drug related. He has overdosed on three separate occasions and one of those instances he crashed his car into a utility pole. According to paramedics, he had been dead for 30 seconds. Now the former basketball star has been drug and alcohol free since 2008 and works with organizations to prevent others from living the life he did.

So what would come about if marijuana use became legal nation-wide? The states of Washington and Colorado have already inquired such laws. So what has happened since then?

The Denver Nuggets have produced an outstanding 38-3 home record this season, along with with the Colorado Rockies jumping to 6-0 at home in the early outings of the MLB campaign. Are these results affiliated with the new state legislation? Do all the athletes that visit Denver get loaded on marijuana while they have the chance, and then give lackluster efforts on the hardwood or diamond?

A Los Medanos College football player anonymously admitted to me that he occasionally smokes marijuana and that around 30 percent or more of the team uses it as well.

When asked if use became legal in California he said, “I don’t think it’ll affect them (players) at all. If they’ve been smoking and playing then they’ll be fine.”

This might indicate that marijuana legalization will have no effect in the world of sports at all.