The National Football League had about 15 hours of peace and quiet in 2014 before Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson got high and drove his car off the road.
Actually, according to Carver County cops, Henderson lost control of his black SUV, went across the median, through a grassy area, a parking lot, and finally came to a stop when he crashed into a tree. It was about 3 PM on New Year’s Day, police were about to find some pot in his car, and the NFL was about to be cuffed with its first drug arrest of the year.
But Henderson wasn’t alone for long. The infractions range from the six-game ban of Colts owner Jim Irsay for driving while he was on pain pills, to the indefinite suspension saddled on four-time drug offender Tanard Jackson. Cleveland’s Josh Gordon, another repeat offender, is selling cars in Ohio to pass the time during his 10-game ban for smoking pot.
The league was quietly praised for amending its drug policy and making efforts to curb performance-enhancing drugs, but it’s still a problem. The NFL, which has suspended 104 players over the last three years for drug offenses, will begin testing players for human growth hormone for the first time and will also permit the use of prescription amphetamines like Adderall during the off-season (in season, it will still be an automatic four-game suspension). Additional changes to substance abuse policies that would impact the estimated 80 percent of the league that smokes weed are yet to come, but the NFL is getting tougher on repeat offenders, increasing the punishment to a minimum of 10 games for a second offense (up from eight), and two years for a third (up from one year).
Henderson was the first NFL player arrested for drugs in 2014. So far there have been 39* other arrests this year with 14 NFL players facing drug charges or DUI charges.
Here, a running rap sheet of the NFL’s drug violations, arrests, and suspensions for 2014:
Sept. 5 — Carolina Panthers TE D.C. Jefferson suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Sept. 4 — Free agent RB Andre Brown suspended eight games for a PED violation.
Sept. 4 — Free agent LB Erin Henderson suspended four games for DUI.
Sept. 2 — Broncos WR Wes Welker suspended four games for a PED violation, which was lowered to two games after changes to the NFL drug policy.
Aug. 29 — Dallas FS Jakar Hamilton suspended four games for a substance abuse violation.
Aug. 27 — Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon suspended for the season for pot. The suspension was later lowered to 10 games amid drug policy amendments.
Aug. 23 — Denver Broncos K Matt Prater suspended four games for DUI.
Aug. 23 — Former Buffalo Bills DT Alan Branch was released by the team the day after he was arrested for drunk driving when cops say they spotted him puking out his car door.
Aug. 22 — Chiefs OL Donald Stephenson suspended four games for a PED violation.
Aug. 20 — Pittsburgh RB Le’Veon Bell was arrested by cops after they detected the smell of marijuana coming from his car. Bell has not been punished by the team yet.
Aug. 20 — Teammate LeGarrette Blount, who was sitting in Bell’s passenger seat at the time, was detained by cops and suspected of holding about 20 grams of pot. Blount has not missed any time yet either.
Aug. 15 — Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe suspended one game for a pot bust last year.
Aug. 11 — Dallas Cowboys WR Orlando Scandrick suspended four games for violating the PED policy. He is later reinstated with changes to the NFL drug policy.
Aug. 11 — Washington rookie CB Bashaud Breeland, a fourth-round pick, was cited for marijuana possession at a gas station by Virginia Commonwealth University cops. He hasn’t missed any time in 2014.
Aug. 8 — Miami Dolphins FS Reshad Jones suspended four games for violating the PED policy.
July 30 — Buffalo Bills LB Nigel Bradham suspended one game for a substance abuse violation.
July 30 — Cincinnati Bengals CB Chris Lewis-Harris suspended two games after failing a drug test.
July 23 — Philadelphia Eagles OT Lane Johnson suspended four games for PEDs.
July 23 — Jacksonville WR Justin Blackmon was arrested for the third time following a traffic stop in Oklahoma after cops smelled pot in the car. Blackmon has been suspended indefinitely.
July 22 — Jacksonville Jaguars WR Ace Sanders suspended four games for a substance abuse violation.
July 11 — Minnesota Vikings DE Spencer Nealy suspended four games for PEDs.
July 9 — Redskins FS Tanard Jackson, a repeat offender, suspended indefinitely after failing a drug test.
July 7 — Vikings WR Jerome Simpson, already serving a three-game ban for a previous drunk driving incident, was pulled over and cited for possession of weed and an open container. He was released by the Vikings.
July 5 — Less than two months after another brush with the law, Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon was arrested for DUI. At the time, he was already serving a season-long suspension for substance abuse, which has since been tapered to 10 games.
July 3 — Kansas City Chiefs OT Rokevious Watkins suspended four games for a substance abuse violation.
July 3 — Miami Dolphins DE Dion Jordan suspended four games for PEDs.
July 3 — Colts WR LaVon Brazill, a repeat offender, suspended for the 2014 season but it is later lowered to 10 games.
June 29 — Arizona Cardinals LB John Abraham was arrested for DUI when police found him passed out behind the wheel of his car and it took several minutes to revive him. The only time Abraham’s missed this season is for injury.
June 9 — Kansas City CB Sean Smith was arrested for DUI after cops witnessed him drive his car into a pole. Smith has not missed any time this season.
June 4 — Giants CB Jayron Hosley suspended four games after failing a drug test.
May 30 — New York Giants SS Will Hill suspended six games for a substance abuse violation.
May 30 — Arizona Cardinals LB Daryl Washington, a repeat offender, was suspended for the entire 2014 season for a substance abuse violation.
May 16 — Indianapolis Colts LB Robert Mathis suspended four games for PEDs.
May 12 — St. Louis Rams WR Stedman Bailey suspended four games for PEDs but was later reinstated after the NFL agreed to new drug policy provisions.
May 5 — For the second time in four weeks, Bills DT Marcell Dareus was arrested, this time on felony drug possession charges for possession of synthetic marijuana. He has not faced disciplinary action yet.
May 2 — Carolina Panthers DE Frank Alexander suspended four games.
April 21— Free agent WR Brian Tyms suspended four games for PEDs.
April 8 — Redskins DE Brandon Moore suspended four games for a substance abuse violation.
April 4 — Philadelphia Eagles LB Jake Knott suspended four games for violating the NFL’s PED policy.
Feb. 21 — Baltimore Ravens WR Deonte Thompson was arrested in Florida and charged with felony possession of marijuana after a traffic stop. The case was later dropped due to insufficient evidence.
Feb. 20 — Washington TE Fred Davis was arrested for drunk driving when police were informed of a man asleep in his Rolls-Royce. Davis is suspended indefinitely for a separate incident that included a violent rampage and a manhunt in July.
Jan. 14 — Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Akeem Spence was arrested after cops clocked him doing 100 down an Alabama road? and police dogs found pot in his car. He has not missed any time yet this season.
Jan. 12 — Seattle Seahawks RB Spencer Ware was arrested for DUI but the case was later thrown out. He was cut by the Seahawks in training camp and arrested again for DUI in September.
Jan. 1 — Minnesota Vikings LB Erin Henderson was arrested for DUI and drugs when he drove his car off the road and cops found marijuana and paraphernalia in the vehicle. The Vikings cut Henderson a month later.
* — And counting