The Texans reportedly cut third-round draft pick Sam Montgomery and two other rookies for smoking marijuana the night before Sunday’s game against the Chiefs. Montgomery’s story is that he smoked no marijuana, and he’s sticking to it.
“It is our position that the story written about Sam Montgomery by ESPN, which sets forth that he was dismissed from the Houston Texans for using marijuana, is completely inaccurate,” agent Jeff Guerriero told ESPN.com by text message. “Mr. Montgomery was dismissed from the team for allegedly violating a team rule. This can be confirmed by the Houston Texan personnel.”
Montgomery also told CSN Houston that he was not smoking marijuana, and that he merely walked into a room where the other two rookies, Willie Jefferson and Cierre Wood, were smoking a cigar.
Meanwhile, the website FanSided.com contends that it has obtained a copy of the results of a drug test that Montgomery voluntarily took after the incident.
Without knowing all of the circumstances regarding the voluntary drug test — including whether the testing lab knows with certainty that the urine came from Montgomery — it’s impossible to put complete faith in the outcome of the test.
If Montgomery was indeed cut for smoking marijuana, a grievance for the balance of his 2013 base salary is possible. Former Colts defensive lineman Ed Johnson pursued a grievance several years ago after being cut following a marijuana-related incident.
While the labor deal gives the NFL exclusive jurisdiction over matters relating to substance abuse, paragraph 11 of the standard player contract permits termination “if Player has engaged in personal conduct reasonably judged by Club to adversely affect or reflect on Club.” That’s a broad standard, and the team’s judgment doesn’t have to be accurate; it simply must be reasonable.
If Montgomery, Jefferson, and/or Wood want back in to the NFL, it may be reasonable to not push the issue with Houston. Though the various franchises compete on the field, the NFL ultimately is a 32-branch national corporation. Guys who stir things up with one branch may be ignored by the others, absent the kind of talent that prompts teams to look the other way.
Of course, if Montgomery, Jefferson, and/or Wood had that kind of talent, the Texans would have looked the other way, regardless of the specific facts of the case.