Mike Neal has been thoroughly criticized by Packers fans of all kinds since Ted Thompson drafted him in the second round of the 2010 draft. First he was an unknown commodity, and was viewed as a reach in the early part of the draft; now, after missing the majority of both the 2010 and 2011 seasons, he's viewed as an injury-prone player who can't stay on the field. Finally, the NFL announced earlier this month that Neal was suspended for a violation of the league's drug testing policy, giving the Neal critics even more ammunition.
Neal, however, is claiming that his positive test was a result of a technicality. Does this sound familiar?
Neal is claiming that he "never touched a performance-enhancing drug such as steroids or human growth hormone", according to a phone interview he conducted with Paul Imig of Fox Sports Wisconsin. Neal told Imig that the test was a result of failing to provide paperwork to the Packers on a prescription that he was given by his doctor. Presumably this drug showed up on the test as a banned substance, but would not have been considered banned if he had informed the team and the league that he was taking it for a medical reason.
The appeals process for drug tests in the NFL is vastly different from that of Major League Baseball, but if Neal chooses to appeal he has a long road ahead of him. As shown in the case of Kevin and Pat Williams, no matter how long someone appeals a test in the NFL, they are still likely to serve a suspension of some sort.
Neal very well may be telling the truth. Regardless, one thing is certain: he had better start reading the rule books better. If technicalities like this can get players a positive drug test and a suspension, I hope other players are reading the fine print closely.