On Friday afternoon, a legal incident involving a trio of Green Bay Packers came to light due to reporting by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. At the center of the issue is a traffic stop involving three members of the Packers’ defense: rookies Rashan Gary and Kingsley Keke and team captain Za’Darius Smith.
Smith has been issued a pair of tickets as a result of the stop, which arose after he was pulled over for going about 20 miles per hour over the speed limit on I-94 near Racine. One ticket is for speeding, but the other is for possession of marijuana or synthetic marijuana, which was found in his vehicle.
From the Journal-Sentinel’s descriptions of the traffic stop, pulled from police reports, it appears that none of the three players were under the influence of marijuana when they were pulled over, most notably Smith, who was behind the wheel.
In addition, one of Smith’s comments in the report implies that he may have taken the blame for one of his younger teammates. He reportedly asked “What weed?” when asked about the marijuana, which was found in a bag in the back seat of the car, then said that the materials were his when asked about them again.
Smith is sure to end up in the NFL’s substance abuse program as a result of this incident, and it is possible that Gary and Keke will as well. However, because the tickets were related to possession of the materials only, and not their actual use, the three players may get off the hook with a light suspension if any at all
The closest comparison that this writer can think of was a traffic stop involving former Steelers running backs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount. Bell was charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, while Blount was in the car at the time; while Bell got a two-game suspension, Blount got just one. As a result, it would seem consistent for Smith to get at most a one-game ban for possession, with Gary and Keke not receiving any suspensions.
In any case, the NFL would seem likely to investigate and make any suspensions kick in at the start of the 2020 season. That was how the league dealt with Aaron Jones’ marijuana charges in October 2017, suspending him for the first two games of 2018.