Pubdate: Wed, 31 May 2006
Source: Suburban, The  (CN QU)
Copyright: 2006 The Suburban
Author: Jason Magder
Bookmark: (Drug Test)


Any hope that the Canadian Football League was the ethical and moral 
standard for all other professional leagues was dashed this week when the 
Toronto Argonauts signed NFL veteran runningback Ricky Williams.

Williams, a Miami Dolphins' player who has failed four drug tests in the 
NFL and has been suspended for a year was welcomed to the Argos with open 
arms by GM Adam Rita. Only Montreal GM Jim Popp seems to be sounding the 
alarm bells, but seeing as the Als just got by the Argos in last year's 
playoffs, Popp's concerns can be dismissed as sour grapes. Popp's 
credibility is even more questionable, considering that he wanted to put 
Williams on his negotiation list, but Toronto beat him to the punch.

Williams is a proven drug addict and signing him to a lucrative contract 
sends the wrong message. It's not as if the Argos are giving him the 
benefit of the doubt by signing him to a one-year $250,000 contract (rich 
by CFL standards). This is a player who announced his retirement from the 
NFL by saying he no longer wished to hide his hobby. He said he does not 
want to serve as a role model for anyone.

Welcome to the CFL.

The Canadian version of professional football has sold itself to the public 
by adopting a kinder, gentler image, in contrast with to the NFL's image, 
considering several players have been convicted on criminal charges in 
recent years. The Alouettes visit schools, local arenas and community 
events to create a link to the community. Players emphasize the importance 
of staying in school and staying away from drugs.

Enter Williams, the NFL superstar has made it clear in the media he will 
not change his lifestyle for anyone. While marijuana is not necessarily a 
performance-enhancing drug, it is banned by most sports organizations. What 
would have happened if Williams had tested positive four times for 
steroids, cocaine or heroine? Where do you draw the line?

Allowing Williams into the CFL shatters that squeaky clean image the league 
has strived for in recent years. It turns the league into a clearing house 
for NFL rejects or a place where they can bide their time while figuring 
out new ways to cheat drug tests.

Williams has made it clear he won't change his ways for the Argos, or any 
football team.

While the talented runningback might give the Argos a temporary boost in 
attendance figures, it will deliver a terrible blow to the CFL and 
everything league commissioners have worked for in the last 10 years.
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