By Tim Graham
The Buffalo Bills were known as a team of high character under General Manger Buddy Nix and coach Chan Gailey.
In their three years, one Bills player was arrested. Wide receiver Paul Hubbard, a training-camp body, was busted for driving drunk and, as expected, didn't make the team. That was the extent of the Bills police-blotter activities from June 2009 through this weekend.
Tonawanda News reporter Jessica Bagley wrote today that Bills linebacker Nigel Bradham was issued a ticket for marijuana possession in the Town of Tonawanda a few hours after starting for the Bills in a preseason victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Friday night.
Although not arrested, Bradham could face NFL discipline and becomes the most notable Bill to have a run-in with the law since Cleveland police Tasered and arrested safety Donte Whitner in April 2009.
The Bills prided themselves on being respectable gentlemen under Nix and Gailey. As Gailey told me last year at training camp, "I think our football players have been very smart about how they handle themselves and what they do -- or don't do, more importantly. They're the kind of guys that Buddy and I both want on this football team."
With Gailey gone and Nix on his way out, the Bills noticeably drifted away from some of those principles in April.
They drafted two players with multiple arrests and college suspensions, linebacker Kiko Alonso and safety Duke Williams, and signed receiver Da'Rick Rogers, who failed multiple drug tests at Tennessee and wasn't drafted because of character concerns.
How are the Bills going to hold players such as Alonso, Williams and Rogers accountable when a starting linebacker is rolling down Sheridan Drive with the smell of weed wafting from his car?
Sometimes, the best way to hold a person accountable is when he stumbles in public, but that's too late to save the team embarrassment.
The NFL will get involved in Bradham's situation. Marijuana is a banned substance.
Players do not get suspended for a first offense, but the first violation of the NFL's drug policy places the player in a confidential phase of the intervention program. For instance, had Bradham failed a random drug test, he already would be in the program, and we wouldn't know it until the NFL announced a suspension for the second offense.
But if Bradham wasn't in the NFL's substance-abuse program before, then he will be now.
On a team of impressionable young players, some of whom have been considered character risks, Bradham's error in judgment is an unfortunate misstep.
taggedDa'Rick Rogers | Donte Whitner | Duke Williams | Kiko Alonso | Nigel Bradham