There are a lot of perks to be defending Super Bowl champions. Unfortunately, as the Green Bay Packers can attest to, not having to submit to mandatory NFL drug tests is not one of them.
In a very interesting piece by Lori Nickel of the Journal Sentinel, we got an in-depth look into how the league’s stringent policy as it relates to testing for banned substances impacts various players. For whatever reason, the NFL appears to be terrified of the potential black hole that awaits them if they ever earn the ‘tainted’ label that has plagued baseball for years now.
As a result, the league is doing everything within their power to ensure that players stay clean.
Even if it involves forcing Packers defensive lineman Howard Green to submit his urine sample on a warm summer day when he was least expecting it.
"I'm like, man, this is the weirdest thing and he's like, I've got to wait here until you can go," Howard told Nickel.
As it stands, the league currently spends upwards of $10 million on various forms of drug testing over the course of a given year. It’s estimated that the league tests about 350 players every week during the regular season, but the actual number fluctuates depending on different circumstances. The annoyance of having to participate in these frequent tests, though, doesn’t even begin to compare to the severity of punishment if a player were to get caught.
So, does the frequency of the exams and the inevitably harsh consequences of being found to have illicit substances in your body deter wrongdoing? Some players definitely think so.
"It's impossible to take steroids in this league for as many times as they test you," tight end Jermichael Finley told Nickel. "If you do steroids, you've got to do a cycle every day. You can't do a cycle, then stop, then do it every other day.
"So, it's impossible. There's no way around it. If you've taken steroids or done any of those kinds of things, they're going to see it, I guarantee it."
No matter where they stand on the overall uncomfortable nature of the process, everyone understands why it’s place.
"It's a necessary evil to keep a level playing field," said Green Bay fullback John Kuhn.
At the end of the day, there is something to be said for the cleanliness often associated with football. The general perception of players not being on anything stymies the token cases of drug abuse in the league, if for no other reason than those cases are considered exceptions to the rule.
Ultimately, Packers guard Josh Sitton put it best:
"Guys want testing; we want it to be fair. I don't want to be going against a guy that's 330 pounds that runs a 4.7 because he's on steroids or something."