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Why the Steelers should avoid players with marijuana backgrounds in the NFL Draft

Marijuana use will cost the Steelers one of their best players to begin the 2015 season. Hopefully, marijuana doesn't cost the Steelers again in this year's NFL Draft.

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Just because something is socially accepted doesn't mean it's right.

With this in mind, as long as marijuana is a banned NFL substance, players should not be using the drug.

The Steelers will soon face the consequence of having a player use marijuana, and hopefully, Pittsburgh will consider this when evaluating who they will acquire in this year's NFL Draft.

Two players Pittsburgh may consider drafting in the first round are Nebraska's Randy Gregory and Missouri's Shane Ray. Unfortunately, both Gregory and Ray have history with marijuana use and possession. Gregory has tested positive for marijuana three times in the past 15 months, with his most recent failed drug test occurring at this year's NFL Combine. Recent reports have also surfaced about LSU defensive back Jalen Collins, a player that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin dined with earlier this month. The reports stated that Collins failed several drug tests during his tenure with the Tigers.

A once projected top-10 pick in Thursday's draft, Ray was cited for possession of marijuana early Monday morning. Ray is now automatically in Phase 1 of the NFL's substance abuse program, meaning that he will be subjected to random drug testing by the league for the the entirety of his rookie season.

"I don't wake up every day saying, 'I'd really like to go smoke,'" Gregory said in an interview with NFL reporter Kimberly Jones. "It's not a struggle for me every day (now), it really isn't. In the past, hell yeah, it's been a struggle.

"I want people to understand I'm not some dumb jock pothead. I'm not. I'm intelligent....I don't want to be labeled as some bust that couldn't make it because he smoked. And I won't be labeled as that."

Randy, if you don't want to be labeled as a dumb jock pothead, don't fail three drug tests for marijuana use in a 15-month span.

Ray also took to the media recently, speaking with ESPN Tuesday about how his Monday morning was an "unfortunate incident" that how he has already put it behind him. And after overcoming a childhood that saw him survive living in one of the most dangerous cities in the United States, Ray surely won't let a possession of marijuana citing get in his way from thriving in the NFL.

Give Ray credit for taking ownership of his mistake during his interview, but he appeared to miss the main reason why teams will now hesitate to draft him this upcoming weekend.

The main issue at hand is a matter of engaging in activities that could negatively affect their team. After Le'Veon Bell was given a three-game suspension for driving under the influence of marijuana and Browns receiver Josh Gordon was suspended for the entire 2015 season for failing the league's substance abuse policy on multiple occasions, players know the consequences of testing positive for marijuana. It not only means lost games and money for the suspended player, it also means that the entire team will suffer from the player's absence.

DeAngelo Williams will surely do his best to fill Bell's void to start the year, but I think every Steelers fan would agree that they'd feel much more optimistic heading into the Week One contest at New England with No. 26 in the backfield. As excellent as Bell has been both on and off the field since that incident, he chose his needs over the Steelers that day, and that decision could hurt his team to start the 2015 season.

In the year 2015, recreational marijuana use has become more accepted in today's society; it's legal in the state of Colorado and one day could be legal in every state. And considering the murder trial with Aaron Hernandez that just concluded last week, there's certainly worse things Gregory and Ray could have done, but this isn't a question of whether or not using recreational marijuana is OK and if it should be legalized; it's about people following rules and thinking how their actions could affect people who depend on them. It's about discipline and sacrificing certain things in order to achieve lifelong dreams. It's about being selfless, being dependable and being professional.

The bottom line is that if NFL players decide to use marijuana, they are selfishly accepting the risk of hurting their teammates and the organization they represent. Hopefully, the Steelers avoid such players that could put them in this position in the future, and instead look to select players that will undoubtedly put the Steelers and their teammates first.