That, of course, was before purple drank was forced back into the mainstream sports consciousness with a recent ESPN Outside the Lines report on its use by athletes, followed shortly thereafter by washout quarterback JaMarcus Russell being arrested at his home for possession of codeine syrup. It was a convenient convergence of events that allowed the media to pretend that the issue is poised to become the next great menace.
Now, of course, pundits and former players are piggybacking on the controversy and sounding the alarm about purple drank as the latest player-related scourge that must be swiftly dealt with. The latest to pipe up: Shannon Sharpe.
"Obviously, this is something that needs to be addressed" Sharpe, now a CBS analyst, told USA TODAY's Jon Saraceno. "There is a trend here."
"Once upon a time, this was part of the subculture that was not NFL-related," said Sharpe. "When I played I never heard anybody talk about this stuff. Now you're seeing more NFL players involved with it."
Sharpe retired in 2003, three years before Kiel was the first player arrested for possessing purple drank. That doesn't mean that no player had used it before that point. It's quite possible, even likely, that one had. With popularity, any drug is going to make its way to more prominent and wealthy users. That purple drank is an easy drug to create makes it a definite issue for the teams, but no more than any other potentially lethal drug that has been known to be used by NFL players.
More to the point: what more can the league do to curtail its use? The players know its illegal and that they shouldn't be using it. Should the NFL begin testing for Jolly Ranchers?
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.