The Monday before the 2015 NFL Draft began on April 30th, projected first-round pick and outside linebacker Shane Ray, was cited with marijuana possession after a traffic stop on I-70 in Missouri.
Ray had initially been viewed as a potential top 10 pick in the draft, but was eventually drafted 23rd by the Denver Broncos. Ironically, if Ray had already made the move to Denver, his citation would have resulted in a simple traffic ticket rather than an arrest. While many NFL insiders felt Ray was fortunate to have still been drafted in the first round after his marijuana citation, the reality is that the possession could have potentially cost Ray at least $4,090,452 on his rookie contract dropping from the top 10, down to the 23rd selection.
The Broncos, under the guidance of former quarterback and current General Manager/VP of Football Operations John Elway, traded up five spots with the Detroit Lions when they saw Ray had dropped further than expected. Following the pick, the internet was scattered with jokes and memes relating to the irony of Ray being drafted by a team located in a state with legalized recreational marijuana, just days after his citation for possession.
Elway, along with the rest of the organization, made it clear that they believed Ray was a quality young man who made one mistake at the wrong time. “We had several people that talked to him,” Elway said. “He was very remorseful. He realized he made a mistake. He told me it wasn’t going to happen again.”
Ray was not under the influence at the time of his arrest and had avoided any drug related charges prior to the recent traffic stop. Ray did fail a drug test early in his collegiate career, which will result in his automatic entry into the first stage of the NFL’s substance abuse program and is subject to random testing moving forward.
Ray has been up-front in saying that one poorly timed mistake shouldn’t be seen as a consistent character problem.“One mistake doesn’t define all the good that I’ve done,” said Ray. “It doesn’t define who I am as a person at all. I’ve learned from my mistake, and I’ve owned my mistake. I came here to Chicago when I could have ran. I didn’t. I faced it as a man.”
Ray sat out rookie minicamp to rehab an injured toe, but will report to camp May 18th and hopes to begin practicing immediately.
Photo credit: SI.com