Funny how the timing always seems to work out, doesn't it?
With 4/20 around the corner, what better opportunity would there be to take a stroll down Cannabis Lane and look back on all the times athletes got busted for having their heads a little too high in the clouds?
The raging, ongoing debate as to what should and should not be considered illegal-to-sport consumption of marijuana is just starting to pick up steam, as more and more former athletes continue to come clean on the time they spent with Mary Jane during their college and professional playing careers - especially in the NFL.
The brutal nature of the sport has often driven players to marijuana as a relaxant and pain-killer - a generally "safe" way to cope with the many bumps, bruises and breaks contact-sport athletes have to deal with on a daily basis, often for years at a time.
Stirring the pot even more are the various new marijuana laws in several American states, further compounding the issue. Many are asking the question why these laws aren't loosening the leash professional leagues have on their players with regard to the use of recreational marijuana.
While both sides make valid points on the issue, the reality of it all is that players will often take the risk and bite the bullet if they get caught - what else could explain the fairly consistent wave of suspensions and the amount of repeat offenders (besides blatant ignorance)?
Different cases lead to different perceptions, but the fact remains that at one point in their lives, the athletes on this list just couldn't seem to get enough.
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15 Mark Stepnoski
Mark Stepnoski spent the late 90s and a bit of the 2000s pushing around defensive linemen as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. When he retired, he started pushing for the legalization of marijuana in America. The two-time Super Bowl champion center is a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and has been a vocal advocate for the legalization of marijuana for years. Stepnoski falls in the category of athletes who had no issues with hiding his use of the drug post-playing career - even without the repercussions, some athletes prefer to have something like that stay a secret for fear of affecting their life after football.
14 Michael Beasley
Michael Beasley was supposed to become a top-end NBA talent - a prospect with the potential to take the league by storm and became a superstar for a decade. It didn't go as planned for Beasley, who allowed his use of marijuana to ruin his chance at a long and prosperous NBA career. He was caught several times and ended up overseas for awhile before getting another crack at the pros on this side of the pond. Beasley, at this point, has passed the point of resurrecting what his career could have been - but he's lucky he's even getting the chance he's getting now with the Miami Heat.
13 Byron "Bam" Morris
Bam Morris lands on the list not only for his use of marijuana - he was trafficking and pushing on a regular basis while he was in the NFL. According to B/R, Morris was caught twice while possessing marijuana, and ended up spending 30 months in jail because of it. Morris is of those examples that begs the question why a professional athlete who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a month doing a job they spent their entire life working for would think dealing in anything remotely illegal would be a good idea.
12 Nate Newton
Nate Newton was Mark Stepnowski before Stepnoski came along. Newton was a member of the Dallas Cowboys offensive line during the 90s as well, but ran into legal issues similar to Morris'. Newton was caught with 213 and 175 pounds of marijuana on two separate occasions, eventually leading to his own 30 month jail sentence. If you're looking for a silver lining, one might point out that Newton waited until after his career to get involved in the weed business, unlike Morris, who partook while on an NFL roster.
11 Josh Howard
Josh Howard is widely considered the NBA's "whistleblower" on the marijuana issue in the league, as he was one of the first (and few) to come out and admit that he smoked during his off-seasons while he was an active player. Howard's remarks were scorned upon by the Dallas Mavericks (the team he was playing for at the time), the league and the media, but Howard was also able to garner some support for his honesty and his "bravery" in being forthright about the issue.
10 Chris Webber
Chris Webber's affinity for marijuana was well-known, especially during his career, and Webber found a way to make it worse by putting other's lives at risk while smoking up. Webber was reportedly arrested twice in 1998 for possession of marijuana, and was caught driving under the influence of marijuana. He was also caught by U.S. Customs with marijuana in his bag on his way back into the country after a promotional tour visit with his endorser, FILA, who ended up dropping Webber after the incident.
9 Todd Marinovich
Look no further than Todd Marinovich for the poster boy of throwing your career away just to get high a couple of times. Marinovich was labelled as a player with character issues while he was still in college thanks to the time he spent drinking and smoking in high school. He still managed to parlay his skills into a first round selection in 1991, but failed three drugs tests in his first two NFL seasons and was out of the league before long. He was also arrested in 1997 and served a couple of months in jail on suspicion of growing his own product.
8 Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps battle with his internal demons has been one of the more highly-scrutinized stories of the past half-decade. After winning over a nation with a once-in-a-lifetime Olympic performance, Phelps shocked the sporting world after photos of him smoking up found their way online. While Phelps seemed to straighten himself out, he reverted back to his old ways recently and took time away from the sport to work out his problems.
7 Arnold Schwarzenegger
Surprised? Don't be. Fristly, Arnold began as a bodybuilder, who he is an athlete first and foremost. Secondly, Arnold is practically an advocate for the legalization of marijuana. In 2011, he reduced the charge for carrying an ounce of marijuana in California, which was widely considered one of the main "dominoes" to fall that sparked the movement that has led to the legalization of the drug in several American states today. So if you're enjoying a joint south of the border and can do so without worrying about the legal implications of it, make sure to thank Arnold for his troubles.
6 Nick Diaz
He's had trouble getting his hands on a championship belt, but Nick Diaz has the UFC's bad boy titled locked down tightly. He's tested positive for marijuana three times in the state of Nevada and has drawn the ire from the law and UFC president Dana White on numerous occasions. Diaz clearly falls into the category of athletes that simply does not care about the repercussions of his smoking and continues to ignore authorities despite the damage it has done to his career.
5 Rob Van Dam
For awhile, Rob Van Dam had everything - he was a champion, making bank and was one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. RVD began to throw all that away in 2006, when he was pulled over with 18 grams of marijuana (among other things). RVD's career didn't take a massive hit, though he did spend a few years away from the WWE until finally returning in 2013. He was suspended for his 2006 transgression, but it was for only 30 days and his career wasn't overly affected.
4 Josh Gordon
Josh Gordon's story is perhaps the "sad" one of the bunch. While one cannot simply dish out blame for every single thing that has gone wrong in their lives, one might be inclined to feel bad for Gordon, who (assuming he is telling the truth) has been at the wrong place at the wrong time more than once. Granted, Gordon should be mature and smart enough not to put himself in situations that will land him in trouble, but that is a discussion for another day. All in all, Gordon's situation is not just disappointing because a young man is throwing his life away, but also because he is an incredible talent who could terrorize NFL secondaries for years to come if he can get himself on the straight and narrow.
3 Ricky Williams
Ricky Williams story is perhaps the most fascinating "athlete pothead" story we will ever see. A successful start in New Orleans, the move to Miami, the sudden retirement, the move to the Canadian Football League, and ultimately his return south to finish off his playing career - you can't write this stuff. Since leaving football, Williams has been very open about his marijuana use and the positive effects he found it had on his body during his playing career.
2 Allen Iverson
It doesn't matter what side of the Allen Iverson debate you sit on, one thing that can't be argued is his incredible talent on the basketball court. Iverson earned the ire of fans and pundits everywhere for a number of reasons, including for his use of marijuana and his 1997 arrest for possession of marijuana (and for having concealed weapons). Iverson still managed to have a remarkable basketball career, but his consistently high ranking on athlete pothead lists is concerning (although maybe not to him).
1 Randy Moss
One of the greatest wide receivers in the history of the NFL also finds himself at the top of several weed-themed rankings. Moss failed several drug tests over the years, and admitted his use of the drug himself, as he has was quoted as saying that pot had been in and around the league since the time he entered it. Moss' upbringing might have something to do with it (check out the Rand University 30 for 30 if you haven't already), but there's no arguing that Mary Jane did not deter Moss from being one of the most dominant players in NFL history.
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