Eric Reid was ejected from last night’s blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers for making contact with Ben Roethlisberger’s head. Afterwards, he was randomly selected by the NFL to take a drug test. And he wasn’t happy, informing reporters this is “like the fifth time” it’s happened since he signed with the Carolina Panthers six weeks ago.
Let’s do some rough math. Reid, like all other players, has a 13.88 percent chance of being randomly picked for a weekly test. Assuming one of the five tests was at the outset with his physical, that means it’s happened four times in six tries.
There’s around a 40 percent chance an NFL player wouldn’t have been selected at all over a six-week stretch, and 40 percent chance he would have been selected once. A player has about a 15 percent chance of being exactly twice in six weeks. Add those up, and 95 percent of the players will be tested two times or less in any given six-week period.
The chances of being picked exactly three times in six games is slightly under 5 percent and the odds of exactly four or more in six weeks–which is what Reid would be at if his claim is correct–is around 0.5 percent.
It’s possible Reid was exaggerating. It’s also possible that he’s defying probability and being selected way more than seems possible. It’s possible he’s one of the roughly 11 players we’d expect to get chosen four-plus times in a six-week span, out of the 2,300 eligible players in the NFL. It’s possible it just happens to be a coincidence that it’s happening to him, one of the most outspoken defenders of Colin Kaepernick and kneeling during the national anthem.