SBD/Issue 144/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Top NFL Draft Prospects Feel Effects Of NFL Conduct Policy

Character Issues Surrounding Thomas
Could Prove To Be Very Costly

At least eight of the top 100 NFL Draft prospects in USA Today Sports Weekly’s NFL Draft Guide “have been arrested or involved in an incident during college that is drawing NFL teams’ attention,” according to a front-page Cover Story by Tom Weir of USA TODAY. Univ. of Florida DT Marcus Thomas, who was kicked off the team after testing positive for marijuana twice, and his agent, Richard Burnoski, are “offering NFL teams a forfeiture clause that would refund his signing bonus if he failed a drug test anytime after signing his contract.” Burnoski said that results of Thomas’ recent drug tests have been sent to NFL teams, “but it hasn’t swayed some.” Burnoski: “It couldn’t be a worse year to have a character issue. ... Marcus has already lost millions of dollars.” Pro Football Weekly reported Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson, Clemson DE Gaines Adams and Louisville DT Amobi Okoye -– all expected to be top ten picks –- admitted at the NFL scouting combine they also have smoked marijuana. However, two GMs said that they “viewed the honesty by [the players] as a positive character trait” (USA TODAY, 4/20). Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said that he and his peers “have been feeling additional pressure” since NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell indicated that teams will be “held accountable for players’ misdeeds.” Newsome: “There are some players now we may have to pass on because I don’t want to put [Ravens Owner] Steve Bisciotti in that position or put this organization in that position to be held accountable for a player that I knew had some issues” (WASHINGTON POST, 4/20). ESPN.com’s Len Pasquarelli said teams that “consistently [take] players who end up in trouble — and the team that obviously leaps to mind is the (Bengals) ... are going to be a lot more careful about how they stock their draft boards” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 4/19).

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