Column: Ray’s arrest an injustice, hurts NFL future

After several vanilla months of sports coverage, the busiest week of the sports calendar is finally upon us.

This weekend marks the beginning of the second round of both the NBA and NHL playoffs. Additionally, the weekend will play host to the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby and the fight of the decade between Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather and Manny ‘Pac-Man’ Pacquiao, the No. 1 and 2 pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

But for many Americans, that all pales in comparison to this weekend’s NFL Draft. Arguably the most important day of the year for the football world (minus Super Bowl Sunday), it is where fortunes are won and dynasties are built.

The draft is where hard work is paid off and childhood dreams are fulfilled. But on the eve of the NFL’s Christmas Day, one top prospect is finding his draft status in question and his future in a state of flux.

Former Missouri Tiger and projected top-10 pick Shane Ray was arrested Monday morning in Cooper County. The charges? Possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana, and staying in the left lane.

If you’re confused by the report, don’t worry, because you’re not alone.

I do not pretend to know the operations or procedures of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. However, citing anyone for possession of a controlled substance between zero and 35 grams seems more than a little ambiguous.

If you really want to dig deeper and crunch the numbers, that means Ray was alleged to have been found with anywhere from $0 to about $700 dollars of marijuana on his person.

It would seem as though it would be much easier and more transparent to specify the exact amount in the police report, or at the very least narrow that range down just a little bit.

But maybe I’m just crazy.

Furthermore, all the headlines you’ve probably seen regarding the incident read something to the effect of ‘Ray Arrested for Marijuana Possession.’ But what if I told you that even the headlines of those news stories were false or incorrect?

Ray was initially pulled over by the Highway Patrol for speeding near mile marker 109 in Cooper County. After smelling the faint odor of marijuana coming from his car, the trooper wrote Ray a ticket after finding some of the drug during a search of the vehicle.

According to the trooper and police report, Ray showed no signs of impairment and fully cooperated with law enforcement. He was given a warning for speeding and a court summons for the marijuana charge.

So what does that all mean?

It means Ray was never arrested and was never even in danger of being taken into custody at all. Ray was never handcuffed or detained and never offered any resistance to the Highway Patrol.

But because of some shoddy reporting and fact gathering, Ray’s name has been dragged through the mud at the most inopportune of times. Pair that with a lingering turf toe injury and a reported failed drug test by the NFL Network and all of the sudden, Ray’s football future is starting to look pretty bleak.

Only a few days ago, Ray was a projected top-five selection and was seemingly a lock for the top-10. However, with rumors and speculation swirling around him, some experts and analysts are now projecting Ray to slip out of the first round entirely.

While every organization has the right to pass on a player for any unspecified reason, what has happened to Ray in the past 72 hours is a complete injustice. Yes, Ray did break the law. But a media feeding frenzy and inaccurate reporting have permanently tarnished the man’s reputation and directly damaged his draft stock.

There’s no telling where Ray will go Thursday night, or if he’ll have to wait until Friday or Saturday to hear his name called. But what is certain is that Ray will enter the league hungrier than ever before, and that his future team will be getting the biggest steal of the draft.

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