Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jun 2017
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Ed Willes
Page: 62


NFLer will not test positive for marijuana here, because the CFL
doesn't test for it

Frank Alexander is a 6-5, 275-pound defensive lineman who was picked
in the fourth round of the NFL Draft and spent three seasons with the
Carolina Panthers.

Before that, he played four years at Oklahoma where he was voted the
Big 12's co-defensive player of the year and made the All-Conference
team in his senior year.

Now, if that's all you knew about the 27-year-old Alexander, you'd
take one look at his presence in Kamloops and wonder, "What on Earth
is he doing at the B.C. Lions training camp?"

Then you'd conduct a quick Internet search, which reveals Alexander
has been suspended three times by the NFL for positive marijuana tests.

Now you know why he's at a CFL training camp.

"It's the past," Alexander said Thursday. "I can't live there anymore.
All I can do is move forward. Whatever happened, happened. It's out of
my system. I just do what I have to do to progress from this point."

Well, technically we'll never know if it's out of his system because
the CFL doesn't test for the devil weed. As it is, Alexander's history
raises all manner of questions about the NFL's hypocritical drug
policy and the CFL's don't-ask, don't-tell attitude toward pot and its
benefits to players.

The Lions, however, have only one question when it comes to Alexander: 
Can he help us win?

"He showed us he can be a force (in the Lions' OTA and rookie camp),"
head coach Wally Buono said. "I'm not concerned about it. Mr.
Alexander, he's a good guy who's worked his butt off.

"I'm not going to tell him what to do and what not to do. We all
understand there are things we have to abide by." Some more than
others. During his first two seasons with the Panthers, Alexander
dressed for 28 games and started six while recording 3.5 sacks. By his
third year, there was hope in the organization he'd become a fixture
at defensive end. That hope evaporated in a cloud of smoke and two
positive tests in 2014.

The first of those infractions carried a four-game suspension. The
second came with a 10-gamer. The two suspensions cost Alexander
US$470,000 of his $570,000 base salary and before the 2015 season, he
promised he'd reformed his ways.

He then tore his Achilles in 2015 before recording another positive
test that year. That one came with a one-year suspension.

The Lions put him on their negotiation list late last year and, with
few other options open, Alexander opted for the CFL. If he plays all
18 games with the Leos in 2017, he'll make $60,000 Cdn.

His signing bonus with the Panthers was just over US$470,000.

"We talked to the young man and talked to his agent," said Neil
McEvoy, the Lions' director of football operations. "We felt we could
give him a second chance and our league is built on players needing a
second chance."

Before his third positive test, Alexander conducted a lengthy and
revealing interview with the Charlotte Observer in which he explained
his marijuana use. The plain fact is, the drug is now regularly
prescribed on both sides of the border to manage pain and by this time
next year, it will be legal in Canada.

But the NFL, which prescribes other forms of painkillers like they
were jelly beans, continues to have pot on its banned list.

"I didn't do it before I went to work," Alexander told The Observer.
"I didn't do it at work. It was simply like after I got out of
practice, I wanted to kind of chill and relax. It kind of healed my
body up."

In Canada, meanwhile, the CFL has never tested for marijuana and the
longheld presumption is that use of the drug is widespread around the

In a phone interview, former Lions defensive back Korey Banks
estimated 40 per cent of his teammates used marijuana when he was
playing. While it's difficult to know if that number is accurate, it
doesn't sound exaggerated.

"Guys used it for different reasons," Banks said from Ft. Lauderdale.
"To relax their muscles, to ease their pain, to increase their appetite.

"I didn't care how much they smoked as long as they played well and
the guys who smoked were balling."

Alexander is nursing a strained ligament in his foot and hasn't take
part in the team's live scrimmages during the last two days. Still,
Buono expects him to play in Tuesday's pre-season game in Calgary and
he expects him to be a part of the team's defensive-line rotation this

As for Alexander, he just wants to reconnect with the game that has
brought him both joy and pain in his life.

"It's a chance to play football and feel that energy again," he said.
"There's a certain feeling you get when you get a sack and the crowd
goes wild. I've been missing that. I want to come out here and feel
that again."

If it helps, the Lions would like to share that feeling with him.
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