NFL violates its own confidentiality policy, again

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The NFL has a substance abuse policy. The substance abuse policy contains a clear confidentiality provision aimed at keeping drug-test results private.

And the NFL, through its in-house media conglomerate, continues to periodically violate the confidentiality provision. has posted an article outing Lousville offensive lineman Mekhi Becton as being one of multiple players whose drug test from the Scouting Combine was “flagged.” That’s a roundabout way of saying Becton failed a drug test, especially since the article goes on to say that Becton will now be placed in Stage One of the substance-abuse program for 60 days, and that if he’s not “flagged” again, he’ll revert to pre-flagged status.

Over the course of the next 60 days, however, Becton will be subject to enhanced testing, increasing the number of opportunities for him to be “flagged” again.

The bigger problem here continues to be the nonchalance with which the NFL violates its own confidentiality policy via reports published by Unless and until the league spins off or sells NFL Network and and licenses the three-letter acronym to an entity that isn’t the NFL, any report from either entity is a report from the NFL itself. And when it comes to players violating drug tests, that’s a clear violation of the confidentiality provision.

Ideally, no one should know about any failed or flagged drug tests until a player is suspended. Given the changes to the substance-abuse policy flowing from the new CBA, players will never be suspended for positive drug tests. Which is all the more reason for the privacy rights of players who voluntarily show up at the Scouting Combine and urinate into a cup to be fully and completely respected.

And if those rights are going to be violated by someone from the league office or one of the teams who blabs to the media, the one media outlet that NEVER should be reporting this is the one that is owned and operated by the league and, thus, that is the league.

It’s wrong now. It’s always been wrong. One of these days, hopefully the NFL Players Association will do something about it.

14 responses to “NFL violates its own confidentiality policy, again

  1. Mekhi Becton isn’t an NFL player yet. He’a neither a member of the NFL Players Association nor is he covered by the CBA. Not that I’m arguing what NFL Media did was right–its not, by any means.

  2. But if your team who has a first found pick in the teens or early 20’s how else are you going to get a top ten type player? Trading up is expensive.

  3. Why shouldn’t it be public? In most cases it’s a criminal act unless it’s alcohol; now that NFL has embraced gambling it is certainly of significance to bettors; and, paying customers are being cheated! Furthermore, the clean players ought to be known. If I were an advertiser I certainly don’t want to contract with a drug abuser although I suppose I could contract with players that they have to waive the provision for me (not sure if that is legal in all states).

  4. So explain it to me again why it’s so wrong if people know someone failed a drug test?

  5. They keep drug results private so all the players can claim they just did weed or adderall for PR purposes. And everyone seems to believe them for some reason.

  6. “never be suspended for positive drug tests” Really? Does that mean all players can use all the drug of choice they wish, with no league reaction?

  7. The NFL like most employers, plays fast and loose with their own rules when it is convenient to do so. Throw in their incompetence organizationally and it’s pure magic.

  8. So, I guess that’s one less offensive lineman in the top 15 or at least it should be.

  9. “One of these days, hopefully the NFL Players Association will do something about it.”

    They’ll have an opportunity in the run-up to the 2030 CBA . . .

  10. Surprisingly, drug tests are not covered by HIPPA. A diluted or positive drug test is not a criminal act in and of itself; a positive drug test is not proof of drug ingestion nor is it proof of illegal narcotics possession. Further, agents should advise their clients to refuse the drug test. Since they are not about to sign a contract and their rights have not yet been obtained by a team, as has been previously pointed out, they are not employees of any NFL entity, nor are they a member of the NFLPA, there is no legal reason that would compel the submission to a test. Additionally, as the NFL has demonstrated, there is no established, third-party administered confidential process for chain of custody and test results. If the NFL mandates that a pre-employment drug screen is required, that should be done as a condition of contractual execution. Finally, and I’ll need to research this more, but I do wonder if pre-draft drug testing to could violate any conditions of the NFL’s antitrust exemption.

    Bottom line, don’t take the test until you are legally compelled to do so.

  11. I would imagine it is written in as a pre-employment requirement. The combine itself, is a pre-employment screening. Much like if one was going to be a police officer. If I knew I would fail, I would not show up at the combine. I’d get sick, whatever. Kind of makes no sense. When I went to take my ‘Dole’ test for police employment (that’s what a drug test is called, the Pineapple people invented it), I was talking to guys who weren’t sure if they would pass? Weed takes a month, other drugs…I’ve forgotten but it’s less for most. Not sure of masking agents. But WHY are you HERE? Don’t show. They know why you don’t show and they will delay you for at least a year. Even a valid excuse. Everyone is guilty because most are.

    Once employed it’s mandatory. Random, wink wink. Our Police dept targeted people. Usually the right people. They targeted guys who seemed obvious (I mean you ARE hanging out with cops) but the true random part, ensnared girls at an alarming rate. Go on vacation to Florida or some Island paradise, you get doled upon return. People got nailed all the time. How do you not know? Bizarre to me. Quit. Retire. Don’t do it. Pick one. Again, like these guys who show up at the combine. You can’t fix stupid. That’s the real issue.

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