Extra Points: Washington's suspended reality

Updated: 5/31/2014 10:25 am

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Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - One of the major selling points coming from the legalize marijuana crowd is the belief that the substance is not as addictive as certain items deemed acceptable for adults like alcohol, tobacco or caffeine.

That can be debated but claiming marijuana isn't addictive at all is the kind of red herring which can cause an entire movement to lose credibility from Day 1.

Arizona Cardinals star linebacker Daryl Washington had about $5.8 million reasons to give up weed this year and couldn't do it, a stark reality which points straight toward addiction when discussing marijuana.

Washington was suspended for "at least" the entire 2014 season Friday after violating the league's policy on substance abuse for the second consecutive year.

Other NFL stars like wide receivers Josh Gordon of Cleveland and Justin Blackmon of Jacksonville find themselves in the same boat as Washington, facing year-long suspensions and losing massive game checks because they can't stop smoking what so many describe as a harmless recreational drug.

This exercise isn't about beating the drum for marijuana to remain illegal or screaming from the mountain top, saying it should be decriminalized. Like most people this writer has little skin in the game when it comes to this issue. I don't smoke it and don't care if others do as long as they are not affecting others.

But, count me among those tired of the argument that smoking weed can't hurt others because Washington has certainly adversely affected his teammates for the second straight year.

A 10-6 Arizona club was the best team not to make the playoffs a year ago but maybe if it had its best defender for the first four games of the season the Cards could have garnered the one extra win they needed to reach the postseason dance.

"It's completely unacceptable that Daryl has once again put us in this position," Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said in a statement. "We all know what the consequences are and will deal with them."

Any 12-stepper knows you have to admit there is a problem before you can get help. It's obviously taken far too long for Washington to reach that point and although admitting fault Friday, he did try to pass the blame on the left-hand side by describing the collectively-bargained NFL substance abuse policy as "very strict."

"I recently learned that I had violations of the NFL substances of abuse policy related to marijuana," Washington said in a statement released through his agent. "The policy is very strict, and I have chosen to take responsibility. I am committed to making changes in my life that will allow me to return to the NFL as soon as possible."

To most of us, if Bill Bidwell was ready to cut a seven-figure check on the condition we stopped drinking coffee and alcohol you can bet the Donut Shop K- Cups and the Bombay Sapphire would find a new home in the nearest dumpster.

It's also very conceivable that people like Washington simply have addictive personalities and faced with the same hurdle of giving up caffeine or alcohol, couldn't do that either.

However, those who have turned legalizing marijuana into some kind of religion and are trying to use Washington's "unfair" punishment as some kind or tortured analogy in an effort to bolster their cause are missing the point.

This is about far more than the legal ramifications of a Schedule I drug. After all, remember Washington and others like him in the NFL aren't facing any legal repercussions from their transgressions.

Any boss, especially ones writing the heavy checks, doesn't want his employee abusing anything -- legal or not -- if it affects their job performance.

The woe-is-me crowd may describe this as a game of gotcha, but it's really just the game of life where acting like an adult is paramount to anyone's success.

Whether fair or not, the term "collectively bargained" means everything here. The players were not only in on these negotiations, they agreed to them and Washington was well aware if he was caught smoking marijuana again this would be his punishment.

"I apologize to all my fans, teammates and to the Cardinals organization," Washington wrote on his Twitter feed. "I promise to work even harder and not let you guys down anymore. Thank you for your continued support as I get through this matter."

Perhaps, those words would have meant a little more if they weren't Tweeted on April 3, 2013.

It took all of 14 months for Washington to let that triumvirate down again.

"From a personal standpoint, our hope is that this suspension will give Daryl the opportunity to accept the necessary help and guidance to get his life back on track," Keim said.

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