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Eric Reid sure does get ‘randomly’ drug tested a lot

The odds of any one player being “randomly” tested six times in 11 weeks are incredibly low, much the one active player who has been most critical of the NFL.

Baltimore Ravens v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Eric Reid was given a notice that he had been randomly selected for a drug test in December. That should have been innocuous news except that, for some reason, Reid seems to be randomly selected a lot.

That was Reid’s seventh purportedly random drug test since signing with the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 27. One of those drug tests was a perfunctory part of signing a contract, but still, that’s a lot of drug tests for a player who has been on a roster for 11 weeks. Yahoo Sports worked out the math: There are 72 drug test-eligible players on the Panthers’ roster and NFL policy dictates that 10 will be drug tested every week. For Reid to have been randomly selected six times works out to a 0.17 percent or 1-in-588 chance.

Statistical anomalies happen, but it’s notable when they happen to a player that the NFL might like to see fail. Reid filed a collusion grievance against the NFL in May after going through much of the offseason without any offers to play, alleging that the league and NFL team owners had been influenced to keep him in free agency by president Donald Trump’s comments against NFL players last year. He was the first player to kneel alongside Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem when both players were on the 49ers, and he has continued to kneel in protest against racial injustice. Kaepernick remains unsigned and continues to fight his own collusion case against the league.

Also note: The NFL Players Association had already been investigating the actual randomness of Reid’s drug test notices after he received his fifth one at the end of November. Reid has received two more in the three games afterwards.

On Jan. 9, the NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement saying that an independent administrator found that Reid’s drug tests “were randomly generated via computer algorithm” and that “there is no evidence of targeting or any other impropriety.”

The next day, Reid’s attorneys refuted the NFL-NFLPA statement and demanded they “immediately issue a retraction,” according to a letter sent to the Associated Press.

The letter also maintained that Reid was indeed tested seven times.

“I guess there was something about some mathematician saying it’s highly improbable, but definitely possible,’’ Panthers coach Ron Rivera said in December, per ESPN. “If my name came up that many times, I’d buy a lottery ticket.’’

Reid directly drew the link between his collusion case and the drug tests himself in December, telling ESPN’s David Newton: “I have a collusion case against the NFL. This is something that doesn’t surprise me from them. It’s supposed to be random. It’s obviously not.”

He also continued to outwardly show his support for his former quarterback. During a Monday night football game, he wore cleats celebrating the history of protest that depicted a kneeling Kaepernick:

Technically speaking, there should be no way for the NFL to influence drug testing. An independent laboratory supposedly handles the job, away from the NFL or NFLPA’s influence.

However, suspiciously timed drug tests are not uncommon. Former NFL punter Pat McAfee noted that “random” drug test notices often showed up after he had just done something that might warrant it — like lay a big hit, boom a huge punt, or make a not-subtle-enough 4/20 joke. Last year, a pair of Steelers players noted that they were selected for drug testing after working out with James Harrison, a man with comically large muscles who also seemed to be singled out particularly often by the drug testing system. Odell Beckham Jr. has also complained about being a target for random tests.

Even those cases don’t quite stack up to Reid’s, however — both in terms of how frequently he’s being tested, and the motive the league might have to target him. If the NFL hasn’t been colluding against him, it sure is unfortunate for them that it’s Reid, of all people — arguably the thorniest player for the NFL actively playing — receiving these notices week after week, and not one of hundreds of others.