The news that the NFL had suspended Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington four games under the substance-abuse policy suggests at least three violations of the rules against recreation drugs: a violation that places the player in Stage One, a violation during Stage One that places the player in Stage Two, and a violation during Stage Two.
While everyone involved is keeping very quiet regarding the situation, we’ve learned that Washington did not trigger a four-game suspension via three positive tests. As best we can tell, there was an initial positive test that was the result of a genuine mistake, followed by two additional violations unrelated to a positive test.
The other violations came from the league’s stringent requirements regarding the testing and/or treatment portion of the substance-abuse program. With the league still possessing full authority over the appeals process, it became even harder for Washington’s position to prevail.
As a result, the Cardinals currently have no concerns about Washington, and both sides believe the relationship will continue well into the future.
That said, Washington now potentially faces a one-year suspension if another violation occurs. Which means that the time for mistakes and misunderstandings has ended; absent strict compliance from this point forward, Washington could face a much longer interruption of his NFL career.