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.
NFL.com 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 NFL.com. Unless and until the league spins off or sells NFL Network and NFL.com 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.