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Memorable Moments in D.C. Sporting Drug History

Wes Unseld addresses the media following Chris Webber's 1998 arrest. (TWP file photo by Joel Richardson)

When I heard that John Feinstein's and Sally Jenkins's columns about Michael Phelps's recreational drug use were doing gangbusters traffic, I figured I could try to bogart some of that action with the old "Great Moments in D.C. Sporting Drug History" retrospective. But then my intern and I started going through the archives, and jeez, the published drug-related moments weren't too great. Tragic, more like. Heartbreaking. Unpleasant, at a minimum. A distinct lack of "took a hit from a bong at a college frat party and issued an amusingly bland apology" story lines.

Christian Laettner got suspended for five games in 2004 after violating the NBA's drug policy, and "said he was remorseful and embarrassed for a 'misjudgment' that 'will never happen again,' " according to The Post. Georgetown's Ed Sheffey led the Hoyas in assists as a freshman, but transferred the next year after he was charged with six misdemeanors, including marijuana possession, and suspended from the team. A misdemeanor marijuana charge brought probation for Elijah Dukes, and one-time Bullet Scott Skiles had a marijuana event in college.

Among the most tragic was the Dexter Manley era, which was ended by a fourth drug strike in 1991. From The Post's story:

Manley sometimes showed up at Redskins Park drunk and once "with a glass of vodka in my palm." He also wrote that after one game at RFK Stadium he lost his cocaine spoon that he used to "shovel the coke up my nostril, and I had it with me before the game. But I couldn't locate it later." He said he takes full responsibility for his actions, but felt that at times there was a double standard. "For years," he wrote, "a bunch of those Hogs have met in a Redskin Park shack after practice, drinking like winos. On Redskin property! They call themselves the Five O'Clock Club....Yet I'm the one who got in trouble for being a member of my own five o'clock Club, 5:00 a.m., that is.

Not really funny. Like, not at all funny. In fact, virtually the only nod to humor came from Bullets GM Wes Unseld, who discussed Chris Webber's 1998 arrest for marijuana possession. I'll quote from The Post's coverage at length.

As an NBA all-star in the 1960s and 1970s, Washington Wizards General Manager Wes Unseld said he watched players smoke marijuana and, as a consequence, "act weird." How weird? "It's like the old joke that goes: A guy's watching a football game with 60,000 people. He sees the team get into the huddle and he swears that they're talking about him," Unseld said. "You know, that kind of stuff."...

Webber has declined to publicly discuss his arrest. But Unseld said he believes the marijuana cigarette allegedly found in Webber's vehicle may have been used by a friend of the basketball star.

"I think it's a real chance that it could be someone else's," Unseld said. "I am not down there on a daily or hourly basis with [players]. But from what I've seen of the guy, he's got his head on straight. You know, [he] is immature like most 24-year-old kids are. But [marijuana] wouldn't be something that I would be overly concerned that he would be involved in."

As he fielded questions about Webber's arrest last week, Unseld said marijuana should be added to the NBA's list of banned substances.

"I don't have a clue how many players are using it," he said. "But I'm not sitting here saying I'm stupid enough not to have known guys who do it. When I was playing I knew -- and everyone knew -- guys who were indulging too much in it. And I can tell you one thing: These guys acted a little weird."

Or you could just refer to the classic Jay-Z lyrics from "Izzo," kindly suggested by a reader: "Fo' shizzle my nizzle used to dribble down in VA; Was herbin' em in the home of the Terrapins; Got it dirt cheap for them; Plus if they was short with cheese I would work with em."

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 3, 2009; 12:49 PM ET
Categories:  College Basketball , Redskins , Wizards  
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I love Dexter, but compared to Len Bias, Dexter's story is "As You Like It" crossed with "Something About Mary." I'm still not over Len Bias' death. So, uh...yeah.


Posted by: EdTheRed | February 3, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Ed, I was 12 when Len Bias died and I've never quite gotten over it either.

Steinz, if you want the funny, why not the Freddy-Adu-underage-at-Maryland-frat-parties story?

Posted by: gocaps2 | February 3, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

What is the under age Adu story? Sounds like a hoot. please share..

Posted by: DadRyan | February 3, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

What about the blood doping Hines Ward underwent to recover from injury before the Super Bowl. In any other sport (like cycling, swimming, track & field, etc.) that would mean an automatic ban.

Taking out blood cells and injecting them back in is the definition of blood doping.

The NFL's drug policy is a sham. Even the players that misused the water pills during the season weren't suspended.



Posted by: jayrockers | February 3, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

DadRyan - nothing huge. Just some pix of Freddy hanging out at a party in College Park when he was maybe 15 or 16 and looking maybe slightly a wee bit intoxicated. IIRC, there were stories out there that he had either hidden in a closet or jumped out a window when cops busted up the party for noise.

Posted by: gocaps2 | February 3, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

You didn't dig deep enough, Big Stein. Check your WaPo archives for Marlena Cooke, one of the late Redskins' owner's wives.

Posted by: fitzfacts | February 3, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

No John Thompson Jr. vs. Rayful Edmonds?

Posted by: StetSportsBlog | February 4, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

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