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Football star faces marijuana charge

An Alachua County sheriff's deputy found less than 20 grams of marijuana in the Brooksville native's car.

By GREG AUMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 26, 2001


Brooksville's John Capel, who represented the United States in last year's Olympics and was drafted by the NFL's Chicago Bears last month, is facing a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana.

It's the second drug-related check against the 22-year-old this year; the receiver also tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

Capel, a former University of Florida receiver, has not signed with the Bears, who selected him in the seventh round. Bears spokesman Scott Hagel said Friday that the team was aware of the charges and in the process of gathering information, but declined to comment further. If Capel makes the Bears' roster, he would likely have to enter the league's substance abuse program.

Just after midnight on May 5, Capel was pulled over for a traffic stop by an Alachua County sheriff's deputy, who, upon reaching a car window, noticed a "very strong odor of marijuana," a report said.

Less than 20 grams, which is slightly less than three-fourths of an ounce, of marijuana was found in a fast-food bag on the floor, and an unnamed passenger told the officer that Capel had asked him to take the marijuana from the car's center console and put it in the bag.

Capel and the passenger both denied ownership of the drugs, and Capel told the officer that someone "may have been smoking in my car." It's believed to be his first criminal offense, but it's not the first drug-related allegation against him.

A week earlier, he had addressed his positive drug test at the NFL combine in a story published in the Chicago Tribune. Capel said he tested positive because he had spent six hours in a car with friends who were smoking marijuana while driving from Gainesville to Miami.

"I didn't think I had to worry if I was just in the car, but I should have known better," Capel told the newspaper. "Marijuana stays in your system forever."

The former Hernando standout, who did not return messages left with his parents and agent Friday, has been in Chicago participating in the team's off-season conditioning program. His father, John Sr., an associate pastor at a Brooksville church, said when contacted Thursday that he did not know about the arrest.

A week before Capel's arrest, he told a Tribune reporter that he would work to show the Bears the positive drug test wasn't an accurate reflection of his character.

"I have to prove I'm a world-class player and a good person," he said.

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