NO SUSPENSION FOR KACZUR
Posted by Mike Florio on December 19, 2008, 11:49 a.m. EST
In light of the three-game suspension recently imposed on Jags receiver Matt Jones arising from charges of felony cocaine possession, several readers have asked us whether Patriots offensive lineman Nick Kazcur is facing a suspension after being arrested earlier this year for possession of OxyContin.
Said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello of Kaczur: “The matter was resolved internally and the status of any player in the substance abuse or conduct programs is confidential.”
In other words, there will be no suspension.
The key is that Kaczur’s criminal matter was resolved without any finding of a ”violation of the law related to substances of abuse other than alcohol.” If he had been convicted, pleaded guilty or no contest, or entered a diversion program (as Jones did), Kaczur most likely would have been slapped with a suspension.
Instead, Kaczur pleaded guilty to speeding, after helping bust the guy who had sold him the OxyContin. (The seller, Danial Ekasala, pleaded guilty and was senteced last week to 42 months, and the judge said the sentence would have been stiffer if Ekasala hadn’t tried to get Kaczur to stop taking the drug.)
That said, Kaczur’s conduct likely has landed him in the substance abuse program, and will require him to engage in extensive drug testing. It’s also possible that he already was at a low level of the program and that this incident bumped him up a notch; ideally, nothing about a player’s status in the program is disclosed until a suspension is imposed and all internal appeals have been exhausted.
Still, there’s something about this that doesn’t sit well with us. What Kaczur did is not much different that what Jones did. The only difference is that Kaczur snitched on his supplier and so the drug charge disappeared.
In our view, then, the league needs to tie its penalties under the substance abuse policy to factors that don’t rely on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Doing so can, as we’ve seen in the cases of Kaczur and Jones, lead to inequitable results.