A few months ago, there wasn't much wide receiver/running back hybrid Percy Harvin needed to do to prove he was worthy of a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Widely recognized as the most explosive player available, Harvin had largely managed to stay out of the trouble that plagued his high school playing days as he led the Florida Gators to two BCS titles.
But he couldn't manage to do the one thing that could secure his chances at a first round contract: pass his drug test.
Earlier this week, a handful of players who'd reportedly failed were cleared, but Harvin wasn't among them. Two sources told Fox Sports that Harvin had indeed tested positive for marijuana.
The NFL isn't afraid to draft a guy with a poor Wonderlic score (Harvin scored a 12 out of 50, on par with "driftwood"), and no one is naive enough to think professional players never touch weed. But combining the two isn't a good message to send to potential employers: during the most important week of his life, and with full knowledge he'd be drug-tested, a player was dumb enough - or defiant enough - to smoke pot anyway.
And that leads to a whole host of other questions.
Now teams aren't so sure that Harvin's bad attitude and lack of respect for authority aren't as questionable as his injuries. What about the ref-bumping that got him suspended in high school? Or the fight on the basketball court that got him banned from all high school sports in Virginia? The time he duked it out with his own teammate at Florida?
Even Florida coach Urban Meyer, while declining to say whether or not Harvin failed drug tests at Florida, noted that Harvin has "got to be in the right place" to excel in the NFL. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of his character, from a coach desperate to prove his program can break the spell of Gator receiver flops.
Add the dumbfounding inability to stay away from drugs for one week at the expense of millions of dollars, and you have a prospect sliding down the draft board and out of the first round. The Cowboys have reportedly removed him altogether, and it's likely others will follow.
He'll still be picked - there's no doubt that Harvin is a dynamic player, and the rewards outweigh the risk in lower rounds. But the first is where all the fat contracts are, and, as NFL.com draft analyst Mike Maycock said earlier this week, "There aren't many GMs or coaches I know that would be real excited about having a guy on their team who was dumb enough to test positive at the combine."
Guess that Wonderlic is pretty accurate, after all.
Janie Campbell is a Florida sports fan who wonders what Percy Harvin gave up for Lent. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the Internet.