Upon learning that Denver Broncos receiver Carlos Henderson was arrested yesterday, January 14, on a marijuana charge, most NFL fans are likely to assume that such busts are common for members of the team, given Colorado's reputation as a cannabis mecca. But, no: According to a comprehensive database of NFL players in trouble, Henderson is the first Bronco in more than seventeen years to be taken into custody for an alleged weed violation.
In July 2012, following the arrest of then-Broncos lineman Elvis Dumervil on road-rage-related allegations, we posted about 34 busts of Denver players since 2000, a total that was the third-highest for any NFL team at the time. Our source was the NFL Player Arrest database, created by the San Diego Union-Tribune, which began in 2000 with, appropriately enough, a Bronco's brush with the law. On January 24 of that year, Rod Smith, one of the greatest players in the franchise's history, was cuffed after being accused of choking, beating and shoving his common-law wife.
Of the incidents we detailed, only one of them — the March 1, 2008, arrest in Florida of then-Broncos defensive lineman Marcus Thomas — involved drugs. However, the narcotic in question was cocaine.
Since then, the NFL Player Arrest database has been taken over by USA Today. By our count, ten more arrests of Broncos happened during the intervening five-plus years, and none of them have involved marijuana.
The closest previous example took place on January 3 of this year, when longtime Bronco T.J. Ward was accused of possessing marijuana at his home, based on an outstanding warrant circa the previous October. But Ward is now on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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The particulars of Henderson's arrest are spelled out by The New Star, a newspaper in Monroe, Louisiana. Henderson, who played his college ball at Louisiana Tech, was reportedly the passenger in a GMC Yukon piloted by a friend of his in West Monroe when the pair were pulled over by a detective who noticed a "strong smell" of marijuana in the vehicle.
Henderson and the driver, Alejandra Aviles-Jimenez, both insisted they neither possessed nor had recently smoked any pot, the arrest affidavit maintains. But after a search of their ride, the detective is said to have found "multiple pieces of suspected raw marijuana," a water bottle with a possible "marijuana cigar" inside it and a "thick green residue" on Henderson's tongue.
The Broncos have issued a statement about the arrest. It reads: "We are aware of the issue involving Carlos Henderson and are gathering more information."
With conversations ongoing in regard to the NFL potentially allowing marijuana use, at least for medical reasons, the repercussions for Henderson's actions may be less severe than they might have been in years past. In the meantime, his status as the first Denver Bronco to be arrested for cannabis during the 21st century represents a considerable surprise — at least to fans of Von Miller.