League denies drug test report

The NFL, as well as an agent and USC head coach Pete Carroll have all denied recent Internet reports that as many as five potential first-round draft prospects tested positive for drugs at the Combine.

The Internet is full of rumor sites that discuss everything from the NFL to Lindsay Lohan's love life. Unlike newspapers and legitimate new sites, some websites can run fast and loose with the facts and don't have the same level of internal censorship that other news sources adhere to.

NFLDraftBible.com is coming under fire by the league after publishing a report (which got wider exposure when picked up by websites like ProFootballTalk.com) claiming that five first-round draft prospects tested positive for drugs at the Combine in February.

According to the report, defensive tackle B.J. Raji, cornerback Vontae Davis and wide receiver Percy Harvin all tested positive for marijuana at the Combine. In addition, the website reported that USC linebackers Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews tested positive for steroids. Sports Illustrated's website (SI.com) has also reported that Raji tested positive for marijuana at the Combine.

The response from the NFL has been immediate and rather damning. On the league's official website, it sighted an unnamed "league spokesman" (don't they knew who their own spokesman is?) saying, "The independent medical advisors who administer the tests have notified in writing those players – and only those players – who tested positive at the Combine. Unfortunately, rumors about draft-eligible players, including rumors about test results, begin to circulate every year at this time. Many of these rumors are circulated for self-serving reasons and they are terribly unfair to the players and their families."

On the USC official website, head coach Pete Carroll defended his players saying that the rumors are "absolutely false" and that neither Matthews nor Cushing have been notified of a positive test.

For the vast majority of football fans, NFLDraftBible.com wasn't a website that most were familiar with, but when the stories get validated by being repeated on sites like PFT – despite its disclaimers that "this is them reporting it, not us" brand of journalism – it has brought the issue to national attention and put all five of the players under a microscope.

If the allegations prove to be true, both the league and its unnamed in-house spokesman will have egg on their faces. If, however, the reports aren't proved to be accurate, the reputations of the players named will be still be sullied in the minds of many fans. They may not remember that nothing came of the stories, just that their names have been linked to positive drug tests – whether true or not.

Perhaps we are just perpetuating the story by forwarding the information, but with both the league and representatives for several of the players denying that results have been made known to the league or its teams, the website is being given a lot more attention than it had a few days ago. In the end, that may have been the goal, but it is just another sign that Internet is becoming a primary source of news as newspapers are dying off or struggling financially. Unfortunately, many of these websites don't have the same level of accountability that longstanding news sources have to maintain.

SATURDAY NOTES

  • Jared Allen won't be taking part in the team's voluntary offseason workout program, which begins Monday. Instead, he will be working with a personal trainer in Arizona, according to the Pioneer Press. Allen met with head coach Brad Childress earlier this week in Las Vegas and is said to be in excellent shape. Allen went on a USO tour of the Middle East last month and also visited several African nations. He says he is running two to three miles a day to stay in shape.

  • A story in the Chicago Tribune said the Vikings were responsible for the Bears trading for Jay Cutler. Beat writer David Haugh said in his story on the Cutler trade, "The Bears should send a thank-you note to the Vikings complex in Eden Prairie, Minn., for their role in bringing Chicago its first franchise quarterback. Without the Vikings signing free-agent wideout Bernard Berrian to a $42 million contract last offseason, the Bears might not have received a compensatory third-round pick (99th) that surely made them feel more comfortable dealing their own third-round pick to Denver." However, if not for the signing of Berrian, perhaps the Bears would have a legitimate go-to receiver for Cutler to throw to rather than converted cornerback Devin Hester and a slew of young unproven receivers.

  • Childress reiterated Friday to the Star Tribune that the Vikings were not among the teams in talks with the Broncos to trade for Cutler. Scout.com's Adam Caplan had already reported the Vikings didn't submit an offer for Cutler. Considering the asking price the Bears met, it's hard to believe that too many teams were willing to part with their starting QB, two first-round draft picks and a third-rounder.


  • Viking Update Top Stories