So You Failed A Drug Test: Khyri Thornton Edition

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Detroit Lions’ Defensive End Khyri Thornton Was Suspended Six Games By The NFL.

The NFL, more than any business you or I are likely to ever work for, is all up in their employee’s business.

From the number of hip thrusts they are allowed after a touchdown, to what substances that have nothing to do with their jobs they are allowed to ingest, NFL players have to put up with some ridiculous constraints on their lives. Do other celebrities have such regulations? No, they do not.

There was a time when the NFL had a massive image problem. In the 1980s, media outlets were full of stories regarding legendarily wild parties. On order to curb the rising tide of negative publicity, the NFL brought in an intense drug testing program. It really was the beginning of the league office’s role as the fun police.

The result has been the opposite of what was intended, as it always seems to be with the league office initiatives. Now, rather than just getting publicity when a player gets a DUI, the league also gets publicity when a player has a glass of wine on a plane six months later. Then the league gets more publicity when a year later, that player smokes some weed at a party and catches a cab home. Then the league gets more publicity when that player gains 45 lbs after not playing the game for 36 months.

I can already hear people making excuses for why the league needs to be assholes about this. “These players are role models for children. The league needs to set an example.” No; they don’t. Are they more of a role model for children than baseball, hockey, or basketball players?

MLB has not suspended a player for non-PED drugs since 2004. The largest penalty for marijuana use is a $35,000 fine in MLB. No games missed, and nobody cares. The NHL doesn’t even test for it. The NBA couldn’t play a game if its players got suspended for marijuana tests, they also fine players, and publish nothing.

By any measure, the NFL’s drug policy is ludicrous overkill. This article by Brad Townsend runs through the various league’s policies in a bit more detail. That’s the end of my rant on the subject.

What Is Next For Khyri Thornton

Here is how offseason suspensions for periods shorter than a full season affect the daily lives of players during the offseason. They don’t. Thornton can practice with the team. He will play in all of the preseason games, and battle for a spot on the 53-man roster. The suspension doesn’t actually hurt Thornton’s chance of making the cut oddly enough. If anything, it incentivizes keeping him.

How this will likely play out is that the Lions will keep Khyri Thornton. Thornton will begin his suspension shortly after the Lions set their 53-man roster. That will immediately open a roster spot. The effect will be that the Lions get to stash Thornton as a midseason depth option. This is not as good as having Thornton for the first six games of the season unless he wasn’t going to make the cut. Thornton was likely on the roster bubble in 2017. He is still facing competition from additions Jordan Hill and Jeremiah Ledbetter to make the roster.

By no means does this increase Thornton’s chances of collecting the last ten weeks of his salary this season, but neither has it torpedoed them to the depths of the Marianas trench. Unless they cut him tomorrow of course.

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About the Author

Ash Thompson
Ash Thompson is a fanatical football fan, and less fanatical hockey fan despite his Canadian heritage. He is sorry aboot that. His spirit animal is a beaver with a shark's head. He enjoys maple syrup and tacos, but never at the same time.