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BENGALS & DRUGS, CONT.
Many of the revelations in the story about former Cincinnati Bengal running back Stanley Wilson in the February issue of Penthouse come down to one man's word against another's. Wilson was banned from the NFL last May after he was found using cocaine in his hotel room the night before the Super Bowl. In the story, Wilson accuses one Bengal, wide receiver Eddie Brown, of buying the coke and two others, defensive backs Rickey Dixon and Daryl Smith, of using it along with him. Each player has denied Wilson's charges.
According to NFL policy, a team's drug tests are to be monitored by a technician employed by the league, not by the team. The NFL instituted centralized control of testing before the 1988 season, in part because some teams felt that others weren't being as vigilant as they should have been in conducting their tests. But for last season's Super Bowl, the league deviated from its own policy.
Rather than use the technician who had overseen the testing of the Bengals during the regular season, the NFL turned to Marv Pollins, Cincinnati's team trainer. Joe Browne, director of communications for the NFL, offered no explanation for the NFL's decision except to say, "It was our judgment in the league office that the testing revert to the '87 policy." Before this, Pollins had never supervised the collection of urine samples for drug tests.
"They asked me if I would do it for the game," says Pollins. "I don't know why. It was done the way it was supposed to be done. There's nothing to it. They pee in front of you. They sign a paper that says that it's their urine, and it's sent off to the lab."
However, Emanuel King, a Bengal linebacker last season who signed with the L.A. Raiders as a free agent, said in Penthouse that during his test the week before the Super Bowl, "[Pollins] told me, 'Bring me back some piss—I don't care whose it is.' " Pollins says that King's recollection is "not true—no way," and that he watched King produce his specimen.
Whether one believes King or Pollins, the NFL's drug program—the league would not reveal its plan for testing before this season's Super Bowl—leaves much to be desired (SI, July 10, 1989), especially the fact that the league fails to follow its own guidelines rigorously.
YOU'RE BEING WATCHED
Even before being crowned national champs on Jan. 2, the Miami Hurricanes had gained a significant victory. College football's team of the 1980s was an academic washout for the first half of the decade: Only four of the 17 players who entered in '80 had graduated by '85. Last month Miami announced that 16 of the 22 players who entered school on scholarship in '85 would be getting their degrees by May.
Some of that improvement may be attributable to the surreptitious Hurricane Watcher Program, in which students spend 15 to 20 hours a week shadowing academically unmotivated athletes and filing reports on their class attendance. With the threat of punishment ranging from sprints to suspension, more and more football players have been finding their way to class. Even though the watchers never identify themselves to the athletes they watch, the athletic department insists that the two-year-old operation isn't spying because the goal is to help the athletes, not to catch and punish them. "I don't know who the Hurricane Watchers are," says safety Charles Pharms, "but even if I did, I wouldn't threaten them."