The NFL’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) could bring an end to suspensions for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. According to a report from Pro Football Talk, players would no longer be suspended for positive drug tests.
Rather than suspending the players, the National Football League would simply issue fines for failed drug tests.
In order for the new CBA to pass, at least 50 percent plus one of the dues-paying members of NFL Players Association will have to vote in favor of the agreement which would span the next decade. Marijuana and all other substances of abuse would no longer trigger time off of the field.
Suspensions for positive drug tests only come from the failure to cooperate with testing while in Stage 2 of the program.
From the report:
For the first violation, the player loses one half of a game check. For the second violation, he loses a week’s pay. For the third violation, it’s two weeks’ salary. For the fourth and all subsequent violations, it’s a three-game fine. While that can get expensive, the player will still be allowed to play.
Suspensions under the new CBA arise only from a failure to cooperate with testing or clinical care while in stage two, and a suspension happens only at the fourth violation (three games). The fifth violation results in a four-game suspension, the sixth violation triggers an eight-game suspension, and the seventh violation leads to banishment for at least a year.
This is a positive step forward for the league. As long as players cooperate with the testing or clinical care, they will not be at risk of being banished from the league. It also shows a more open and understanding policy for substance abuse and could help players get the care and treatment they need if they are dealing with a substance abuse issue.