At first blush, news of the Cardinals’ plans to impose drug testing upon safety Tryann Mathieu raised a red flag as big as any from Mathieu’s troubled time at LSU.
The league, not the teams, impose drug testing. The teams therefore can’t do it themselves, right?
Not so, according to the CBA. As pointed out to PFT by the NFLPA, the league’s substance-abuse policy allows teams to test players.
Here’s the relevant language: “An NFL club and a player may agree that such player will submit to unannounced Testing during the term of said player’s NFL Player Contract provided that the club has a reasonable basis for requesting such agreement. A Positive Test (as hereinafter defined) as a result of such Testing shall be reported to the Medical Director and shall result in the player’s entering Stage One of the Intervention Program. Once a player enters an Intervention Stage the number of Tests that a player will be required to take will be determined by the Medical Director or the Medical Advisor, as set forth herein – not by the terms of the player’s NFL Player Contract. Upon being dismissed from the Intervention Stages, a player’s NFL Player Contract will govern the number of Tests that he is subjected to. All such individually negotiated Testing shall be conducted under the direction of the Medical Advisor and not the club. In cases of individually negotiated Testing, the Medical Advisor and other Interested Parties will continue to be bound by the confidentiality provisions established by this Policy.”
In English, this means that a team can test a player, if the team has a “reasonable basis” to ask the player to submit to testing. The testing continues unless and until he lands in the substance-abuse program. At that point, the league takes over.
As to Mathieu, it’s entirely possible that he’ll enter the NFL as a member of the substance-abuse program, given his history at LSU. If he is, the Cardinals won’t be able to test him until he’s out of the program.
Ultimately, Mathieu has to agree to be tested as one of the terms of this player contract. As he tries to demonstrate that he is willing to choose football over marijuana, chances are that he’ll agree to be tested by the team.