Washington Redskins defensive end Dexter Manley was asked last month about the NFL's drug program and the extent to which the league had helped him get treatment for cocaine and/or alcohol abuse. At the time he was a two-time offender under the NFL's drug policy, and had twice put himself through rehabilitation sessions at the Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota.
"Everything I've ever done is [on] my own," said Manley. "[ NFL officials] knew nothing about me as far as me going to Hazelden. After the fact—they knew about it then." Manley added that the league needed "some type of relapse-prevention program" to help drug and alcohol abusers address the underlying causes of their dependencies. "That's what helps you," said Manley. "You help people by teaching them and educating them on [how to handle] certain mood swings.... It's dealing with you [and] your problem—not necessarily the chemical, the alcohol, [but] the person."
Manley's words were sensitive and sensible—but now they echo with sadness. Last week a Nov. 3 drug test of Manley, reportedly for cocaine, came back positive. As a three-time offender, Manley was automatically handed a "lifetime" suspension from the NFL, meaning he can apply for reinstatement in a year. Manley may be reinstated, but the Redskins said quietly last week that he would never play for them again.
Ultimately, only Manley is responsible for his relapse. But the NFL might consider keeping players who test positive for drugs and appear to be addicts out for longer than 30 days, as it does now. The 30-day rehab programs players attend are only the first step toward recovery. They last 30 days because that's all the insurance companies pay for.
Regrettably, even if a team goes out of its way to help a player with a substance problem, there's no guarantee he'll stay clean. Two days before Manley's test result was reported, Dallas Mavericks forward Roy Tarpley, a two-time cocaine offender under the NBA drug program, was arrested for drunken driving and resisting arrest. The next day he was suspended indefinitely by the Mavs. Tarpley, who was leading the NBA in rebounding this season, reportedly comes from a family with a history of alcoholism, and team officials have sought to keep him on the straight and narrow. Owner Donald Carter, who is not an alcoholic, even attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with Tarpley. Said Carter after Tarpley's arrest, "If I ever wanted to haul off and beat my head against the wall, this would be it."
BAGGY AND BAGGED
John Styron of Baltimore called the police when he discovered that more than two dozen of his prized homing pigeons were missing from their rooftop coops, which had been broken into. Officer Ronald Pettie came over and drove Styron through the neighborhood to look for birds and suspects.
On Pennsylvania Avenue, Pettie noticed 25-year-old Thomas Waddell waddling down the sidewalk in oddly bulging pants. Pettie stopped the car. As he approached Waddell, he saw him stuffing a bird down his trousers. Pettie arrested Waddell and asked him to remove the bird from his pants—whereupon Waddell pulled one pigeon out, then another and another and another. By the time he was through, Waddell had plucked 21 live pigeons and five dead ones from his pants.
Styron identified the birds as his, and Waddell was charged with grand theft, malicious destruction of property and—of course—cruelty to animals.