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Marijuana vs. Manziel

August 14, 2013

(a letter to John Canzano, host of 750AM’s ‘The Bald Faced Truth’ sports show)


Dear John,

Over the past days you’ve expressed contempt for the NCAA rule forbidding college athletes from selling their autographs. Yet – as you’ve stated – a rule is a rule, and if Johnny Manziel broke that rule he should be held accountable.

You’re not alone in those beliefs – well, at least the first one. A lot of people just want to see Johnny play and don’t care whether he broke the rules or not. After all, what does his alleged transgression have to do with his on-field ability?

The recent outbreak of scandals involving athletes receiving extra benefits has brought into question whether the NCAA rules governing athlete compensation are applicable today, or are an outdated relic of a time when the playing field (no pun intended) was different.

About a year ago you reported on a slew of NFL hopefuls who were damaging their draft chances by openly acknowledging they smoked marijuana. Your take, as I recall, was that they were being foolish and should wait until they’d made their money in football; then they’d have the rest of their lives to do whatever they wanted. Then you changed the subject.

I was one of many Portlanders who tried to phone in that day, and probably one of many frustrated at how the subject was treated. So, if I may, here’s my take:

The athletes ‘coming out of the closet’ about their marijuana use were performing their civic duty as Americans in publicly addressing a law they found unjust. We, the people, are supposed to have the power to enact change when a law ceases to become relevant. Ideally this would be a conversation limited to politics, but the way Democracy has proven to work, it often takes a celebrity to popularize a cause – either by championing it or by getting into trouble no one wants them to be in.

The outcry Manziel’s (alleged) mischief has caused and the stand the Pot Proponents took are the same: they are people speaking up about situations they find unjust. Personally, I have a lot more respect for a man who stands up and admits he’s breaking the law because he doesn’t believe in it, than a man who tries to sneak around it – and lets others champion his cause when he gets caught.

And frankly, the fact that marijuana is illegal while alcohol and tobacco aren’t, should be a topic of far more import than the consequences of one student athlete breaking a rule. You’re more than a sports show, John. You have the opportunity to spread truth other than your own. I know legalizing marijuana isn’t your cause, but it matters to a lot of people – good, ordinary people who would rather get high than drunk, and who would prefer not to hide behind a medical card.


Bo Mandoe


From → Rants

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