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Former NBA player warns NFL rookies on drug use

2011 Summer TCA Tour - Day 1 Getty Images

The laundry list of current and former NFL players to speak to the incoming crop of NFL players quietly included a former NBA player whose career collapsed under the weight of drug addiction.

Chris Herren’s struggles became the compelling ESPN Films documentary Unguarded.  He spoke at the Rookie Symposium about his experiences.

And he led with a haymaker.

”My opening line was there are more drug addicts and alcoholics in this room than NFL all-stars,” Herren told Dan Patrick on Tuesday.

It’s impossible to know whether Herren is accurate, but given the rash of DUI arrests and marijuana incidents in recent years, I wouldn’t bet against him.

And if Herren is right, it’s all the more reason for teams to do everything they can to help players who are drug addicts and/or alcoholics.  If the teams won’t do it because it’s the right thing to do, then threatening to take draft picks away from teams with multiple player suspensions could give the teams the incentive to do what they already should be doing, but based on recent events apparently aren’t doing it well enough.

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12 Responses to “Former NBA player warns NFL rookies on drug use”
  1. chc4 says: Jun 27, 2012 9:34 AM

    Why in the world is it the team and/or league’s responsibility to babysit players? How about some personal responsibility? How about these adults (they aren’t kids) doing the right thing? I just don’t get how this is the leagues problem. If I get a DUI it’s not my company’s fault.

  2. mpcny says: Jun 27, 2012 9:37 AM

    I will wait for 3 or 5 years and see how many of this class end up in NFL drug or alcohol programs.

    I bet if you took the ave of last 3 draft classes at 3 years you get a very good number to use.

    This is simple mean and averages it will play out over and over..

  3. phinfan527 says: Jun 27, 2012 9:42 AM

    I always thought as we get older we get smarter as men. I guess sports players in general laugh at that fact. Duh, I’m famous now let me stick a needle in my arm and get high. I deserve to party!! No, you should be a man and be responsible and don’t think you are in high school and do what everyone else does. No sympathy here if you are stupid enough to drink and do drugs. How many people dream of playing pro sports but can’t and these chuckleheads throw it all away on drugs and alcohol. Get a life gents. It’s short enough as it is!!

  4. steelwheeler says: Jun 27, 2012 10:18 AM

    I’m confused here….are you telling me that your employer is responsible to make sure you don’t drink or do drugs? I guess i grew up on personal responsibility, that it was up to me to make sure i walked the straight and narrow.
    I know they have more invested in those young guys than our employers have in us, however, to take draft picks away. I think somebody likes Big Brother too much.

  5. Mark Thompson says: Jun 27, 2012 10:24 AM

    @chc4

    If you get a DUI, it doesn’t make the nightly news or Sportscenter. If it’s an NFL player, it does. And, right or wrong, it reflects on the team and the league.

    I agree it’s not their responsibility but it is in there best interest.

  6. mox19380 says: Jun 27, 2012 10:55 AM

    Just a response to the commenters that scoff at the idea that the NFL has any responsibility to babysit their players. You’re are right they don’t have a “responsiblity” but the definitely have an interest (specifically a financial) in doing everything they can to keep their players out of trouble

  7. selldannysell says: Jun 27, 2012 10:56 AM

    chc4 says:
    Jun 27, 2012 9:34 AM
    Why in the world is it the team and/or league’s responsibility to babysit players? How about some personal responsibility? How about these adults (they aren’t kids) doing the right thing? I just don’t get how this is the leagues problem. If I get a DUI it’s not my company’s fault

    Because a lot of these young men are impressionable and have been told all their lives that they can do anything they want. Now that they’re representing the NFL brand 24-7 in all they do and are being watched closely in the world of YouTube and hangers-on, they need to be warned of the dangers and how to avoid pitfalls. They also need to realize that, in the real world, they need to learn responsibility and accountability. Yes, if you “get a DUI, it’s not (your) company’s fault.” But, if you are I get a DUI, it won’t be plastered all over the newspaper, given our workplaces PR nightmares. Given that, it’s a good program.

  8. 303bengalguy says: Jun 27, 2012 11:28 AM

    steelwheeler says: Jun 27, 2012 10:18 AM

    I’m confused here….are you telling me that your employer is responsible to make sure you don’t drink or do drugs? I guess i grew up on personal responsibility, that it was up to me to make sure i walked the straight and narrow.
    I know they have more invested in those young guys than our employers have in us, however, to take draft picks away. I think somebody likes Big Brother too much.
    _______________

    Typical conservative stance that doesn’t take into account that you have a vested $ interest AS WELL AS PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY with regard to the pieces you use to build your money machine… there are TONS of lines of work in which you are very much accountable to the public in terms of who you employ (i.e. trucking companies, school districts, etc) in which the employer themselves can be sued or fined for not putting the right people in place and doing public harm.

    I’m not the least bit surprised it’s coming from a Still’r fan…

  9. chc4 says: Jun 27, 2012 11:34 AM

    To all you wheenies that see some of these reckless players as victims of society… the NFL has a rookie symposium and I’m pretty sure every team has a full time employee that acts as an adviser to players (and anyone else in the organization). Their sole role is to help players stay out of trouble. What else do you want the league/teams to do? Assign a designated driver to every player? Unreal.

  10. chc4 says: Jun 27, 2012 11:39 AM

    Or how about this…. with all that money you make CALL A TAXI. Pretty sure people from all walks of life are aware of what taxis are for. It’s not a white collar industry.

    And as for drug use, if a 20 something year old who grew up with nothing has risen to the NFL is now making $400k+ per year and can’t stay off weed… I’m sorry but there’s another guy waiting to take your spot. It’s irresponsible, childish and stupid. And it’s his own dang fault. Not society’s, not his coaches, his brothers or anyone elses. Oh and the NFL’s drug testing program is a joke. So if you’re dumb enough to get caught when you know the test is coming then you’re even dumber than we all thought.

  11. edweird0 says: Jun 27, 2012 12:04 PM

    I love how when you refer to addiction, you use “marijuana” as the example ’cause that’s deff what we need to be telling kids. Stop perpetuating bogus stereotypes, MJ isn’t addicting and you’re only being ignorant to the facts at hand If you keep on implying otherwise. You & I both know there are much harder drugs these players are using that they’re addicted to & it sure as hell isn’t MJ.

  12. jerrysandusky1 says: Jun 27, 2012 4:18 PM

    Men will be men. They can reanimate Malcolm X, George Washington, and JFK to tell these guys whats right and whats wrong but in the end they are young men with money who do whatever whenever despite the warnings.

    Does the NFL really think 1st Round draft pick “So and So” is going to stop and think about what PacMan said at the symposium while being handed a joint or getting behind the wheel after a few drinks?

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