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Here's What It's Like For a Player Behind The Scenes of NFL Drug Testing

I was drug tested a countless number of times over the course of my nine year NFL career. Normally we would get tested some time between late spring (OTA’s) and the beginning of training camp for “street drugs” like weed or cocaine.

What’s interesting about these tests is that because they are mostly done during of the off season, it is possible that your name could get randomly picked for a test when you are not at the team facility (home for the summer or on vacation somewhere). If that happens to be the case, the officials that administer the test (a pee in a cup test) and are responsible from the area that you are currently in, have to either come to your house or meet you somewhere within 24 hours of you being informed that your named was picked.

Thus, I have had the drug testers that normally do the Patriots at my house in Maine multiple times. Not to mention at a coffee shop in northern Massachusetts due to the fact that I was traveling and it was the only time and place I could meet (it’s kind of weird for everyone when two grown men go into a single bathroom with a bag full of pee cups).

Drug tests for performance enhancers are given randomly throughout the year, which included everyone getting them at some point during training camp. These tests were the worst because they were normally administered sometime between 3am-6am. There is nothing worse then being two weeks into camp, dog tired, and having to wake up 4am to do a pee test (for some reason my test was always the day we had live goalline and short yardage drills—the one day I needed all the sleep I could get).

Towards the end of my career the NFL and the NFLPA also agreed on doing random blood tests, which is the most accurate way to test for HGH.

Taking the test was a very official process with no messing around.

You enter the bathroom...

pick out a box that hold the pee cups and the bags to seal them in, pick out two barcode stickers to be placed on the pee cups and the box which identify you with your pee, take your shirt off, wash your hands, pants down to the floor, and pee (with all eyes on you).

After you are done peeing your pee is tested to make sure it is not too diluted, your picture is taken on an Ipad to make sure it is really you who took the test (those look great at 4am during training camp), and then you have to sign a statement that says everything was administered properly. All in all the process usually takes 5 to 10 minutes and is seemingly impossible to cheat.

The biggest issue I witnessed throughout my career (specifically regarding performance enhancers) was the lack of communication between the NFL and the players on what supplements were recently put on the banned substances list that weren’t on it previously. I had teammates who had been taking certain supplements their entire career and not getting a negative test result and then all of a sudden they are suspended because an ingredient in the supplement they had been taking had been banned by the NFL.

Another issue is as a player you also have to be careful about where the supplements you are taking are being produced. I have also had teammates get suspended because, while there wasn’t anything banned in the supplement they were taking, due to cross contamination with other supplements at the facilities that were producing it, they had mistakenly ingested a banned substance.

In both cases the NFL and the NFLPA (as well as player agents and representatives) make it crystal clear to make sure you know without a doubt exactly what you are putting into your body. Neither of these issues can be used as an excuse to get out of a failed drug test. Unless something went wrong during the administering of the test (which never happens), if you fail it’s going to cost you playtime and money. Bottom Line.

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