PITTSBURGH - Let's nip this non-controversy in the bud and be blunt: Should anyone be surprised that Ryan Clark said some Steelers smoke marijuana?
Doesn't anyone remember the 2008 Santonio Holmes traffic stop that turned into something bigger when police searched his vehicle? When Holmes was Tweeting "wake and bake," he wasn't talking about popping a tube of Pillsbury biscuits into the oven.
Does this mean that when the Steelers called themselves a band of brothers, they were really doobie brothers?
Clark said players use marijuana as a pain killer and a way to wind down. That's understandable.
The players live in a bowl where they must perform. Most people can make mistakes in their job without listening to them enumerated on talk radio. Players function in a here today, gone (ganja?) tomorrow world. It's lucrative, but it isn't easy.
A past generation of Steelers' stress-relieving joint was a place called Dante's, where they got stinking drunk. It was considered a bonding experience.
A lot of NFL players come from environments where having a stash is no different than having a liquor cabinet. They all go to college, a traditional weed garden.
Once they're pros, they get invited to the best parties. They're surrounded by flunkies who delight in being able to deliver the goods to a celebrity.
It's not 1970. Attitudes have changed. Even squeaky-clean Rick Santorum admits to smoking when he was in college. Presidents and Supreme Court justices have, too.
Wasn't it just a few years ago when the Steelers invited hometown rapper Wiz Khalifa to perform at a game? Aside from Cheech & Chong, what recording artist has done more to glorify marijuana use?
Before anyone starts singing, "Here we go Stoners, here we go," understand that Clark was speaking of the Steelers because that's his frame of reference. It would be safe to assume that use is widespread across the NFL.
You can buy recreational marijuana at retail in Colorado. It looks like a mom and pop business now, but major corporations will probably get involved. There's profit in vice.
Someday the NFL merchandise catalog might include rolling papers with official team logos. Wait until Zig Zag bids on stadium signage alongside Budweiser. Synergy? NFL sponsor Frito-Lay can promote its products as the answer to midnight munchies.
Who knows, 50 years from now there may be a need to post a disclaimer at the Art Rooney statue explaining that the fatty in The Chief's hand is just a cigar.
Ralph Kiner's passing brought back the famous Branch Rickey quote of, "We finished last with you, we can finish last without you."
What Rickey's dismissive putdown didn't note was how many tickets Kiner sold for the Pirates when the teams were pretty rotten.
Kiner was a genuine drawing card. The Pirates were last in a lot of categories in those years, but attendance wasn't one of them.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org