By Jake Zivin
EUGENE, Ore. — “If we had that many kids doing it, we wouldn’t be 34-6,” said Oregon head coach Chip Kelly.
Chip Kelly did not avoid the subject. He didn’t defer to a statment or decline to discuss. Like a middle linebacker, he confronted the issue head on. Kelly doesn’t think that half of his team smokes marijuana.
“The single biggest determing factor in sports performance is central nervous system readiness, i.e. your brain,” said Kelly. “It’s just about doing it the day before a game, it’s about practice. And we win because of how hard we practice. I see our kids everyday in practice, and I haven’t seen signs of it.”
The players that we spoke to all denied that the team has a marijuana problem. But there was some resentment that the actions of what they say are a few have come to represent the many.
“I don’t think it’s right that because one kid something people just think that it’s true,” said safety John Boyett. “That’s like if I said, ‘I bench press 400 pounds and so does everybody else on the team,’ and somebody writes an article saying everybody [on the Ducks] bench presses 400 pounds because [John Boyett] said that. Well you can’t believe what one guy says.”
Ultimately, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal within the team. Perhaps the best indication of how little the article resonated is that defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, who says he hasn’t read the article, was able to joke about one of his stars, Michael Clay, using the drug.
“He did a lot better until he started smoking marijuana,” joked Aliotti.
Clay cracked up in laughter when told what Aliotti said.
“Let Coach Al talk, let him get his shots in,” said Clay.