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How Can We Stop The Substance Abuse?

Whether Pat and Kevin Williams have a solid ground to sue the NFL or not over the four game suspension that has been levied on both players for violating the league’s steroids and related substances policy is not the main focus of this post. Instead, it is to advise all agents and athletes to take heed that the NFL is quite serious about enforcing its policies. Thus, what action should be taken? Every NFLPA certified agent should understand what may and may not enter his/her clients’ mouths and properly inform them of the rules and regulations. Additionally, another protective step may be taken, one that Dynasty has adopted to prepare its future NFL clients for the road ahead: Hire a nutritionist to be a part of the team. His specialty is nutrition, combine preparation and compliance with NFLPA steroid and banned substance policies. Whatever the cost may be, it most certainly is worth it, no? If Pat or Kevin Williams is your client and he has to sit out four games, that’s four fewer games that you can take a commission off of.

Steroids are not allowed. Diuretics and water pills are forbidden. Just like in other sports, drug-taking is not permitted and if it is discovered they may have to have mandatory substance abuse disorder treatment and are either suspended or dismissed from their sport. Besides Pat and Kevin Williams, four others have been suspended for the final four games of the regular season: Charles Grant, Deuce McAllister, Bryan Pittman, and Will Smith. Three out of the four are on the Saints roster. Maybe they need to hire more nutritionists at that organization alone. As an advocate for players, you may think that I am pulling for the Williams’ in a lawsuit. However, the rule of the land is that you are responsible for knowing what the laws are. In a collective bargaining situation, you must be aware of the rules and regulations. In a various memorandum sent out to the players, the NFL has clearly noted that players are responsible for what goes in their bodies and that all products are taken at the players’ own risk. The appeals process may not be completely fair toward the players, but again, that’s not the main point of this post.

We, the players and agents, need to have some accountability. Instead of fighting substance abuse policies through litigation, we must do whatever is necessary to prevent suspensions from being preferred. It is also about finding out why they feel like they need to use it and to get them the help they need, whether through the use of rehabs like The Holistic Sanctuary or via other means. There could be reasons that could link to certain mental health issues, which is also worth making a note about. Substance abuse is no joke. If it means sending people to Honey Lake Clinic Christian facilities, for example, to get some professional help for their substance abuse, then so be it. If that means hiring a nutritionist to get them back on track to leading a healthier lifestyle, then so be it. Look at what happened to baseball because of the onslaught of steroids. The NFL is doing its best to stay clear of such a situation.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.