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Muncie got me in on the freebasing after he'd processed it, and I wanted to learn myself, so Mumphord showed me how. Paulette was working, the kids weren't home, and whenever Mumphord came to town I got the pot out and lit up the stove and we cooked. Mumphord always wanted Muncie to join us, but Chuck did it with us only once. There were others who didn't hesitate to join in. We got a regular little circle going, at one place or another, and we started basing every chance we got—Clarence Chapman [a defensive back] and Mike Strachan [a running back], and even some of the white guys on the team. I freebased with Guy Benjamin [a quarterback] one night. Another time Strachan and I sat there and smoked nearly an entire eighth.
After a while, I stopped snorting altogether. All I wanted to do was freebase. And that meant an ever-increasing expense. I suddenly realized I wasn't getting as much free stuff as I used to. I began making regular withdrawals from the bank, and when I stopped to figure it out, I had a habit that was costing me $1,500 to $1,800 a month.
The 1980 training camp started, and instead of tapering off, we accelerated. The dealers scurried around Vero Beach, where we trained at Dodgertown, to answer our needs. We had pots and little stoves and hot plates in our rooms at camp, and every night was fun night. We were so bold with it, it got to be ridiculous. One time Chuck and I cooked all night long for three nights in a row. I just about went nuts one day when I got back to the room and found that someone had run off with my hot plate.
More than once I came right out of freebasing into team meetings. A coach would be talking, and I'd sit there in a daze, all messed up, breathing hard, my chest swollen, my heart pounding, just dying for another hit and unable to get it. Finally I said screw the meetings. I started skipping. And every time I missed, I got fined $250. Which meant that I was spending $400 a day for coke in order to screw myself out of another $250.
If anybody on the team didn't know what was going on, they were deaf, dumb and blind. Players would come into the dressing room after being up all night, and they'd brag about it. "Boy, I got me some good stuff last night. I couldn't stop, man. I had a rock this big." Or, "Boy, the s——I had last night was awful. Like to made me throw up." They'd be in the meetings with their chests all puffed out, and sweating, and unable to sit still, and you'd have to be in another state not to recognize the symptoms.
Finally, Dick Nolan asked me what was going on: "Are you on drugs?"
I said, "Coach, I'd be a fool to be on drugs."
He said, "O.K.," and that was all.
About that time the NFL sent Charles Jackson around for his annual pep talk. Jackson is an ex-narcotics officer, and he has a regular routine about drugs that he uses to lecture players with. Nobody seems to take him seriously, but you listen because he's entertaining. I suppose the league office thinks he identifies because he's black, but it boils down mainly to appearances. He makes an appearance, and nobody sees or hears from him again for a year or so.
I knew Jackson from before. He called me one of his "special" people because of my Miami troubles. He came to me in the locker room and said, "Hey, baby, what's happening?" and slapped my hands. "You all right?"