Editor’s note: Brien is a well-traveled Houstonian and Army Combat Veteran with an extremely wide range of talents and interests including the NFL (Packers), Irish History, and writing. Follow him on twitter @ODonalsVanguard
By BRIEN O’DONAL
The newest report coming out this afternoon is that Michigan star Jabrill Peppers has tested positive at the NFL Combine for a diluted sample. This comes on the heels of a report at the end of last week that Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster had the same result on his test. This begs the question: should the NFL begin performing initial testing for diluted results, on site, before the players leave Indianapolis? If they aren’t then maybe they should, and if they are testing on site then why aren’t those players with diluted samples given the opportunity to re-test immediately?
These players are putting themselves through rigorous workouts in order to prepare for the combine so that they can showcase themselves for NFL scouts and execs. It should be no surprise that a few of them get sick, or have to force hydrate themselves the night before their position drills. If you’ve ever had to take in that much fluid in an effort to keep your muscles from cramping or to recover from an illness then you that your urine gets diluted in the process. If you have to take a drug screen during that time frame then of course the sample will be diluted as well. Peppers and Foster have both stated that illness preceded their combine appearance and that they had to drink a lot of water; and in Fosters case even IV fluids.
I can understand that the position of the NFL is to ensure these athletes are not gaining a competitive advantage between college and the pros but it shouldn’t be too hard to determine that a players sample is diluted within a short time of them taking the test. Heck, I took one recently for my current job and the results were back in about an hour. With these athletes working out as much as they are before the Combine it’s not hard to determine if a player has been ill and if he has a diluted sample make him re-take the test before the end of the day. If they are trying to cover something up they shouldn’t be doing then it would still be there upon the more stringent testing they will surely send his sample through.
These young players are putting themselves through hell just to get ready for their chance to make life changing money in the NFL. They should not be punished for getting sick in the process and still doing everything they can to make it through their tryout in decent health. Peppers and Foster will have to enter the NFL drug program which will require more frequent random testing and scrutiny. It also puts a black mark on their record that may not be deserved. Sure, teams do their due diligence about these matters before drafting a player; but this shouldn’t be an area they have to waste resources on if the players have never failed a screening before. Especially if all they did is provide a diluted sample and were not given the opportunity to provide one that isn’t before they left.
Please don’t be one of those detractors who says that anyone with a diluted sample is hiding something either. Remember, the results are sent off to have even more tests run for things that can’t be found without high tech lab equipment. Adding a step to check for diluted samples will only provide players the opportunity to retest immediately so that they don’t end up in the drug program just for getting sick because they travelled too much or worked out too hard.
If I had a shame bell I would give it to the NFL for allowing players with diluted samples to leave the facility without re-testing them.