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The Great NFL Smokeout

The weekly meeting of Hey-Stop-Doing-That Anonymous had just begun when, in a particularly cheap literary trick, Ricky Williams and Quincy Carter walked in and sat in the back.

Group leader: "Seems we have new folks here. What are your names?"

Ricky: "You a journalist?"

Group leader: "Nope, just run the meetings is all. Confidentiality is guaranteed."

Ricky: "Well, I'm Ricky, he's Quincy, and we're here because the NFL said we had to be."

Group leader: "However you got here isn't as important as the fact that you are here. Ricky, tell us something about yourself."

Ricky: "OK. I used to play football, and I might play it again, but I don't like being told what to do with my body, plus I don't mind a little good-natured reefer now and again. Plus, I hated my job, especially in training camp."

Ted: "Hated YOUR JOB? I sold aluminum siding for 17 years. Hated YOUR job? Jesus!"

Group leader: "OK, Ted, we know. It'll be your turn in a moment. Go on, Ricky."

Ricky: "So I tested positive for smoke, and I said the hell with it. But now I'm thinking about coming back, so I have to do this. Are there cookies?"

Group leader: "After the meeting, my friend. Quincy, what's your story?"

Quincy: "None of your friggin' business, Health Cop."

Group leader: "Well, if you're not ready to be here ... "

Quincy: "OK, OK. I played football too, but then I got fired, and they put out the word that I was doing that Peruvian flake, which is absolutely not so."

Group leader: "Now Quincy, you have to confront your demons before ..."

Quincy: "Hey, I know what demons I have and what demons I don't. I said I don't do blow, and that's it!"

Group leader: "OK, but at some point you will have to confront your problem before you can move on with your life."

Quincy: "My problem is that I got fired from my team. You want to solve that, go ahead."

Dutch: "Listen, pal, I went through the same thing you did. Drove trucks cross-country for years, got hooked on the Amphetamine Krispies, and I've been on the bricks for months."

Quincy: "Great, but I'm talking about the Dallas Cowboys here, B.J. And The Bear. I had that gig. I HAD it, and now I don't. Plus, people are saying I flunked a coke test, and I swear that coke isn't an issue. I swear!"

Group leader: "Could it be something else then?"

Quincy: "I can't discuss the details of the NFL substance-abuse policy. The NFL can't discuss the details, and the teams can't discuss the details."

Dutch: "Yeah, I saw that one in the paper. Only this isn't the paper, dude. You can tell us."

Group leader: "Look, he'll talk about it in good time, fellows. Let's leave him be for the moment."

Ted: "No, let's talk about this substance-abuse policy thing. You mean nobody can talk about it, like it's some secret fraternity hazing deal?"

Ricky: "Nobody can talk about it, under penalty of seeing Vince Lombardi in your sleep."

Ted: "Man, that's some company you work for. Who's the boss, God?"

Ricky: "He thinks so."

Group leader: "Yes, Ricky? Go on."

Ricky: "Man, these guys are serious. They have everything but the black helicopters, and they have more power than Congress."

Dutch: "Or the Teamsters."

Ricky: "Yeah, or the Teamsters. These guys do not screw around. Once they get you, you're got."

Group leader: "And yet I hear you want to get back in."

Ricky: "I'd dig being with the Raiders. They're cool, as long as you can deliver the goods."

Quincy: "Me, too. I'd go for that."

Group leader: "Quincy?"

Quincy: "Absolutely. The Raiders? Sign me up, too."

Dutch: "Well, hell, then, put me on the Raiders, too. I can drive a truck for Al."

Ted: "Yeah, and Al looks like the kind of guy who could use his share of aluminum siding."

Group leader: "And maybe a drug counselor, too."

Ted: "Oh, from what I hear, every sport there is could always use one more of those."

Group leader: "OK, then. How about we adjourn until Ricky can get us in touch with the Raiders? And remember your steps, gentlemen."

Ricky: "Yeah, steps. All over it, dude."

Ray Ratto is a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle and a regular contributor to ESPN.com