Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Aug 2013

Von Miller Suspended Six Games

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has reportedly been suspended for the first six games of the 2013 season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He will be eligible to return in Week 7 when the team plays the Colts in Indianapolis.

This should conclude a disappointing offseason for one of the league's brightest defensive stars. Miller has produced 30.0 sacks in his first two seasons and was expected to be relied on heavily with the departure of Elvis Dumervil to Baltimore.

This is perhaps the most notable NFL suspension to a star player since Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for the first six games (reduced to four) in 2010. He returned and the Steelers made it to Super Bowl XLV. Like it did for Roethlisberger, hopefully this suspension will serve as a wake-up call to Miller to get his life's priorities in order.

While any reported demise of the Broncos' Super Bowl chances would be greatly exaggerated at this time, this certainly does not help in obtaining a first-round bye. The Broncos open with Baltimore, head to New Jersey for the third Manning Bowl, host Oakland and Philadelphia, visit Dallas and host Jacksonville. Denver started 2-3 last season before winning 11 straight.

As long as Miller is there to rush the quarterback in January, Denver's only concern may be whether or not to put Rahim Moore on the field with a one-score lead again.

Posted by: Scott Kacsmar on 20 Aug 2013

41 comments, Last at 28 Aug 2013, 7:06pm by jebmak

Comments

1
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 9:22pm

Broncos fans now have wxcuse for when Raiders win divisiin by 1 or 2 games over Brobcos.

5
by DragonPie (not verified) :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 12:27am

As a Broncos fan, I will not consider this an excuse.

If the Broncos manage to lose the division to the Raiders, it's still an epic failure.

2
by islandbob9 (not verified) :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 9:34pm

yeah this schtick hasn't gotten tired at all

6
by Sifter :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 5:25am

You're quite right, it hasn't got tired!

41
by jebmak :: Wed, 08/28/2013 - 7:06pm

+1

3
by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 9:54pm

Did they bump up the standard suspension from four games to six or does the six game suspension indicate Miller did something worse than usual?

4
by BroncosGuyAgain :: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 10:12pm

I suspect the "standard" four-game suspension you are thinking of is for a first-time PED offense. Miller is suspended under the "drugs of abuse" policy, which is separate from the PED policy. This suspension indicates Miller has had at least two violations of the latter policy. Reporting indicates the latest violation is providing a diluted sample for testing after having hydrated extensively during a workout. It has also been reported that the initial offense was a positive test for marijuana use.

Joe: the Brobcos aren't all that worked up about the Raiders.

12
by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 11:00am

Nor is anyone else.

20
by RickD :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 3:49pm

The Jaguars are, as they are in tight competition for "worst team in NFL."

7
by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 5:56am

We wikk see

40
by Other Dean (not verified) :: Tue, 08/27/2013 - 10:24am

Yes, we wikk.

8
by Jimmy :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 6:05am

So Miller gets six games for smoking something that is legal in the state the team plays in but Roethlisberger goes on a coast to coast raping spree and gets four games!?!

Keep looking after the shield Roger, nice priorities.

I guess if you are going to transgress better be a QB with a ring. That's the lesson kids need, jocks get a free pass.

9
by bengt (not verified) :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 9:24am

Hi, I'm the guy who is always defending the Steelers players.
First, you have no idea what you are talking about wrt Roethlisberger.
Second, be the first as it may, Roethlisberger got suspended for something even less related to Football than the colour of his socks while on the field. Von Miller tried to gain a competitive advantage by using banned substances (Yes, that includes smoking dope, which is a painkiller, and yes, I'm convinced that a 'diluted sample' is in fact something worse). If at all, the sentencing is not hard enough on Miller in comparison.
Third, Miller was DROY and went to every Pro Bowl he had the opportunity to go to. Care to revise your 'jock' statement?

10
by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 10:21am

Marijuana as a PED? Hilarious.

29
by bengt (not verified) :: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 11:56am

Most of the legislative treatment of Marijuana is hilarious, but it has proven pharmaceutical effects, and it is well known to be used by athletes because of that.

34
by justanothersteve :: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 3:17pm

I admit my anecdotal evidence is over 30 years old and I can't speak for any of today's varieties. But I guarantee that marijuana can be a very effective painkiller, especially when doing something mindless and relaxing like recreational bicycling for 100 miles or rafting a river with Class IV rapids. I have more recent experiences with alcohol as a painkiller, but the aftereffects aren't worth the trouble.

37
by Brad M (not verified) :: Fri, 08/23/2013 - 3:50pm

I think professional athletes get to use actual painkillers. The weed wasn't for pain

15
by Jimmy :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 11:58am

And you know every gory detail of Big Ben's Sexual Assault tour of America do you?

I couldn't really care less about Miller, I am still fairly disgusted / baffled by how Roethliberger got his suspension reduced by apparently not raping any women for a couple of months. Oh yes and 'finding God' at the most convenient time possible for him.

11
by collapsing pocket (not verified) :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 10:56am

Nope. He got 6 games for not following the rules and failing to provide a proper sample as required by the terms of his employment. This is a procedure thing. The didn't catch him in the act, but they caught him trying to obstruct the process.

And his (alleged) positive test for marijuana and amphetamines (which he was not and is not being punished for) took place in 2011, prior to his rookie season and prior to the legalization of cannabis in Colorado.

13
by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 11:04am

The legalization bit is irrelevant, any way. It's already been established in Colorado that employers can still test for marijuana and punish (even fire) employees if they fail the tests. And, of course, it's still illegal under federal law, even in Colorado and other states that have legalized it. Just a huge mess from a legal standpoint.

16
by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 12:31pm

I'm kind of confused by the significance of that "illegal under federal law" bit. If it doesn't cross state lines, the feds don't have any jurisdiction, do they?

Can anyone more up on the law clear that up?

17
by Jeremy Billones :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 12:57pm

The 10th Amendment isn't worth the paper it is printed on.

18
by collapsing pocket (not verified) :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 1:04pm

Even if that was the case (and the Supreme Court ruled long ago that "interstate commerce" includes lots of things that don't necessarily ever cross state lines) the Feds still technically say its illegal, meaning according to them you can't sell or buy it in the first place. They reserve the right to punish you even if its technically "legal" according to your state, or to punish your state in various ways for failing to comply with federal law.

21
by RickD :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 3:53pm

The SCOTUS decision using the Interstate Commerce Clause to impose the Federal drug law on people who live in states where marijuana use is legal, and who have no intent on ever selling said material, is high up there on the long list of "abuses of the Interstate Commerce Clause."

It's not "interstate" nor is it "commerce" but the Federal government's power holds sway.

19
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 1:38pm

I'm going to regret explaining this, because FO is perhaps the worst place I've ever discovered online for discussing law, but anyway . . .

The Commerce Clause is the real source of federal power here, and Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1, rules specifically on this issue, saying that, “Marijuana that is grown at home and possessed for personal use is never more than an instant from the interstate market” and drawing heavily on Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111, which held that simply having an effect on an interstate market was enough to allow the federal government to use the Commerce Clause for jurisdiction. It theorized that the illicit interstate market in marijuana would inexorably pull marijuana out of a legal intrastate market, and therefore could not be treated as intrastate.

I have not really been following it since I don't care, but I also do not believe that the enabling legislation has actually taken effect to legalize it in Colorado anyway. I believe that does not happen until January. However, again, I have not been following that, so I could have missed passing some such legislation already.

23
by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 4:36pm

The recreational use law is technically already in effect. But there aren't any regulations passed yet actually governing sales, taxes, etc. The legislature is still wrestling with what to do. I think their deadline is something like next June to have that part done.

Sort of a moot point given medicinal marijuana has already been allowed for a couple of years and that has amounted to essentially the same thing as recreational use. You need a doctor's recommendation to get a medical marijuana card, but records show the average medical card holder is a 24-year-old male. Who knew cancer and chronic pain was hitting young males that hard?

27
by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 11:30am

So would they have to demonstrate some effect on an interstate market? Seems specious if it's enough to just say that some effect is possible.

30
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 12:46pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wickard_v._Filburn

It's not quite Scott v. Sandford level dumb, but Wickard might be one of the top 10 most wrong-headed SCOTUS decisions ever.

Given its timing, it may well have come about because of the cowardice of Owen Roberts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_switch_in_time_that_saved_nine

32
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 12:55pm

They do not have to demonstrate any effect on an interstate market, and indeed Gonzales essentially says that it is impossible for marijuana not to have such an effect because it will inexorably be drawn toward the illicit interstate market. Even if it is grown at home for only personal use, it can be in the interstate market in an instant and will be drawn toward it. So the logic goes.

22
by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 4:28pm

For right or wrong, the feds have jurisdiction wherever they say. There have already been some busts in Colorado by the feds. Mostly total morons who were flouting even what the state law allows.. (One went on the news bragging about how he was making over $300K a year with a grow farm in his upscale suburban basement. He was arrested the next day.) Most banks won't take these pot people's money for fear the feds will eventually step in and charge them.

28
by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 11:31am

For right or wrong, the feds have jurisdiction wherever they say.

I'm sure not a lawyer, but that doesn't sound like the Constitution I learned in school.

31
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 12:50pm

I am. It's not literally the law that the federal government has jurisdiction where it says, but the Supreme Court has given a very wide interpretation to the Commerce Clause.

The Commerce Clause says that Congress shall have the power "to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." The state of the law at this point is that Congress can regulate channels of interstate commerce (roads, waterways), instrumentalities of interstate commerce (things bought, sold, or shipped across state lines), and things that have a "substantial relation" to interstate commerce or a substantial effect on it. U.S. v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995). That last area has been construed quite broadly.

Perhaps the easiest way to see how broadly it has been interpreted is with the example of Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942). The government at the time had limits on wheat production in order to force the price of wheat to stabilize. Filburn was a farmer and he produced too much wheat, then used the excess himself. The Court held that because he would then not have to buy wheat, his excess planting had an effect on interstate commerce. He didn't sell it to anyone and it didn't even leave his farm, let alone cross state lines, but because it could affect interstate commerce in that one person would not have to purchase wheat who otherwise would, the government had jurisdiction. Now, one thing that the Rehnquist court did with some success was to rein in some of the extremes of New Deal-era Commerce Clause jurisprudence, finding against the government in a number of cases (like Lopez above) where its judgment would once likely have been accepted, but the court has still never repudiated the rationale of Filburn and in fact has used it for the specific case of marijuana in Gonzales v. Raich that I mentioned earlier.

Marijuana, because of the illicit interstate market trafficking it, is seen to be essentially incapable of not affecting that market, and therefore it is always within Congress's commerce power to regulate it.

33
by justanothersteve :: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 3:10pm

Damn wheatheads ruin everything.

36
by MJK :: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 9:04pm

The interesting thing there is that the reason why Marijuana will affect the illicit interstate market trafficking it, and hence Congress has jurisdiction over it, is because Congress passed a law making it illegal in the first place. Feels like circular reasoning. They can regulate it because keeping it in state will affect a market created because of their regulation.

Doesn't that give them the power to regulate anything they wanted? Anything you want to grow, or produce, or make, at all, Congress can make illegal, and then claim they have authority to make it illegal because, since it's illegal, producing it will create an illicit interstate commerce...

14
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 11:56am

"hopefully this suspension will serve as a wake-up call"

This, to me, is the big takeaway from this episode. Miller is at a crossroads. He's one screw-up away from a one year suspension. I'm not a Bronco fan, but I'd hate to see him throw away a possible HOF career, and many millions of dollars, over something so stupid.

24
by drobviousso :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 5:24pm

I'd hate to see an exciting player be forced to sit out for a year for off-field activities just to satisfy some moral scolds (not calling you one, Revenge).

26
by t.d. :: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 3:16am

yeah, this

38
by DragonPie (not verified) :: Sat, 08/24/2013 - 11:00am

I'm of the opinion that marijuana should be removed from the elicit substance list.

That said, even as a Broncos fan, the man is being paid millions of dollars to not toke up. If he wants a hall of fame career, he should be able to abide by this stipulation. I mean, all the power to Ricky Williams, but unless marijuana means something religious to him or is the only option of medical relief that will work for him, I think he should have enough willpower to give up herb while he's playing.

But, whatever, football is only a game and while I love watching him play, he owes me nothing and his priorities are his priorities. Hopefully, he doesn't take for granted the opportunity that he has to be a top of the line NFL talent.

But, yeah, policy wise, I'd love it if the NFL took the lead in decriminalizing marijuana which has no business being illegal. Oh, also, we should end the war on drugs entirely.

25
by Anonymous99999 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 6:30pm

Who else could challenge the Cos unless its New England trying to revert to peak 2010 form without 2 TEs who made it possible? I see a loss against Dallas since he's never won there as a visitor, possibly, but Manning already exorcised the San Diego demons last year. Same result, here. 15-1 or 14-2, with an errant loss in the later part of the season, maybe in Houston which makes them rest starters for playoffs in Week 17.

39
by DragonPie (not verified) :: Sat, 08/24/2013 - 11:04am

Wow! I wish I had your optimism.

I mean, yeah, I'm hoping that Denver goes at least 4-2 in those first six games, but even if Denver is the superior teams even without Miller, we all know that this increases the chance of an upset in each and every one of those games. Expecting 14-2 or 15-1 is just ridiculous. Sure, it could happen if things bounce the right way, but expecting it is a different matter altogether.

35
by Bobman :: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 6:21pm

The hell with Miller and pot laws, all I have to say is: Mr. Manning, welcome to the first six years of your career. Please wear one of those weight lifting belts when you play so you don't throw out your back carrying the team. And when the D allows the opponents to take a 35-33 lead late in the 4th quarter and you press too hard while playing behind a 4th string center and throw a pick, remember, it's all your fault.