(ESPN) On a frosty January evening in Eugene, a University of Oregon student plops onto a couch, nestled between a whirring space heater and a muted television at a friend’s off-campus apartment, and pulls a nugget from the bag. At his feet sits a backpack emblazoned with the logo of the Rose Bowl, which he and his teammates had won barely a week before. “Purple Kush,” he says of his preferred marijuana strand, which he rolls into a hefty joint between his forefingers and thumbs. “It’s pretty much all I smoke.”The joint, to which he adds a dash of tobacco to make a spliff, is typical for this student-athlete. “Bongs and pipes mean more evidence,” he says. He lights up, kicks back and exhales a dense cloud. Normally, he’d pass the spliff to one of his Oregon football teammates, but tonight he smokes alone. “Most of the guys are waiting until after winter workouts,” he says. Once thoseconclude in March, he adds, they’ll gather in clusters to partake together. About half the team smokes, he estimates. “It’s a team thing. Like video games.”
“It’s not just us,” he says, taking another hit. “If you think Oregon’s the only team smoking weed, you’re crazy.”
The article does a good job covering the popularity of marijuana use among college athletes, who see smoking a joint as “no big deal” and akin to drinking a beer. At Oregon, the weed use is well known (ask Ganja Jon) and dealt with only when circumstances of public exposure and/or law enforcement get involved. The team, it seems, self-polices its weed users – if a player who tokes isn’t cutting it in class or on the field the other players will address him. They have formulated a code of behavior to avoid paraphernalia (more evidence) and toking in public or at parties.
Oh, and this team full of potheads just won the Rose Bowl for the first time in over nine decades, defeating a powerful Wisconsin team (which I’ll assume has more beer drinkers than pot smokers… I’ve visited both campuses). The year before, these blunt burners were a play or two away from being declared National Champions.
But my favorite comment on this shocking news flash that college kids smoke pot comes from Clay Travis’ Outkick the Coverage blog:
What’s more, in an era when boosters pay for abortions at Miami, the most legendary coach of our era fails to keep children from being raped in his team’s locker room at Penn State, and the entire purpose of the NCAA continues to be ensuring that kids who have nothing continue to have nothing despite billions of dollars being made off their talents, it’s pretty damn hard for the moral outrage meter to register any indignation about college kids smoking pot.
Guess how many of the above stories ESPN broke last year?
Yeah, none of them.
The NFL hardly cares about a player’s marijuana use anymore. It used to be draft picks like Warren Sapp and Randy Moss would drop to the middle or tail ends of drafts in which they should have been early selections. But now, many teams relish the opportunity to pick up talented players that other teams pass up with moral indignation over their marijuana use (see: NFL 2010 Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin, who was picked 22nd by the Vikings out of Florida.) This year, Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is still listed as the #2 corner and #16 draft prospect overall, despite a dropped marijuana charge (Dre claims it was his friend’s weed in the car and he had no idea it was there… uh huh.)
In fact, this entertaining ESPN Page 2 story imagines an All-Time All-Star All-Weed NFL team, with the following lineup:
Offense: QB Todd Marinovich, RBs Ricky Williams, Jamal Lewis, WRs Randy Moss, Muhsin Muhammad, TE OJ Santiago, OLs Mark Stepnoski, Nate Newton, Khiawatha Downey, Marvel Smith, Tra Thomas.
Defense: DLs Warren Sapp, Keith Hamilton, Anthony Maddox, Cletidus Hunt, LBs Ahmad Brooks, Darren Hambrick, Cornell Brown, DBs Chris McAlister, Rashard Anderson, Rodney Artmore, Juran Bolden.
This is a concept I adopted for our Pigskin Potheads fantasy league team, which happened to win our league championship against teams stocked with Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers (OK, it helped that the championship game was Week 17 against a Green Bay team that had Aaron Rodgers and James Starks sitting out.) I only draft players who have been busted for or made headlines with weed. Our championship lineup includes:
Offense: QB Michael Vick, RBs Marshawn Lynch, Ricky Williams, WRs Percy Harvin, DeSean Jackson, TE Aaron Hernandez (no OLs in this fantasy league)
Backup Offense: QB Chris Simms, RBs Kevin Faulk, Javarris James, WRs Kenny Britt, Jerome Simpson, Santonio Holmes, TE Anthony McCoy
Defense: DLs Jonathan Babineaux, Shaun Ellis, LB Leroy Hill, DBs Tom Zbikowski, Derrick Martin
One position where weed smokers are tough to find is kickers and punters. C’mon, players, somebody pass the blunt to the little guy!
On now, Hon. Rebecca Kaplan from Oakland City Council, Dr. Jon Gettman, and Prof. Mark Kleiman, on raising revenues through legalized cannabis.
Next panel, MMA’s Toby Grear, WWE’s Rob Van Dam, former ESPN producer Sean Neumann, and two-time Super Bowl winner and All Star Mark Stepnoski on Pot & Athleticism.
Closing speaker, PBS travel guru Rick Steves.
(ESPN) “The poor guy,” Rick Steves said of the outrage over [Michael] Phelps’ infamous bong hit. “Kellogg’s wants to preserve this fantasy that good athletes don’t smoke pot. Good athletes smoke pot. Smart good athletes don’t get caught.”
If you’ve had the good fortune to travel to Europe, or the lesser fortune of tuning in to a PBS pledge break, you’re probably familiar with Rick Steves. His “Europe Through the Back Door” guide books are the best European travel guides by so wide a margin that I’m not sure which is more essential for a trip overseas, your passport or your Rick Steves book. He also is an outspoken proponent for the decriminalization of marijuana, so I called him recently to learn what he thought about the fuss over Phelps.
“I think it’s a good example of how America is sort of hysterical about a drug that the rest of the world doesn’t think is very dangerous,” he said. “About half the people in America have smoked marijuana. The president has. Some members of the Supreme Court have … many people have. But if a celebrity athlete smokes pot, they lose their endorsements.”
“Nobody is saying drugs are good. No one is saying you should smoke pot. People are just saying: Don’t arrest adults who smoke pot,” Steves said. “It’s a civil liberty. They stopped arresting people in the Netherlands 25 years ago and marijuana use hasn’t gone up. They treat it as a health problem, not a crime. The U.S. is stuck in this mindless war on drugs costing billions of dollars. There are 80,000 people in jail right now for simple laws regarding marijuana. There were 800,000 people arrested last year for marijuana, most for simple possession.”
Steves wants to be clear. He isn’t saying kids should be allowed to use marijuana, just as he doesn’t think they should smoke or drink alcohol. And he isn’t advocating the legalization of harder drugs. “I acknowledge there is a serious drug abuse problem in this country,” Steves said. “I’m the parent of two teenagers. I don’t think they should smoke pot.”
What he is saying is that prohibiting marijuana “causes more trouble than the drug does.”