By Max Luckan
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman cleared up, or attempted to clear up any rumors that he was close to a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy on Monday.
Freeman said that he voluntarily entered the league’s substance abuse program after he accidentally took Ritalin last year instead of Adderall to treat his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
On Monday, Freeman released a statement through his agent, Erik Burkhardt, which cleared up any misconceptions about any potential violations by Freeman.
“Like millions of Americans, I have ADHD and I have been prescribed and permitted to take medication to treat this condition for the entirety of my NFL career,” Freeman said. “Well over a year ago, I took a different medication for the same condition [Ritalin rather than Adderall] and to assure everyone that the error was a one-time mistake, I agreed to be voluntarily tested in the NFL Program,” the statement read.
“Since that time, I have taken and passed all 46 drug tests I’ve been given, which test for every drug and banned substance imaginable. I agreed to allow such testing to be done at my workplace [team facility] because I spend all of my time there and I have nothing whatsoever to hide or be embarrassed about.”
ESPN recently reported that Freeman was a Stage One participant in the NFL program, and that Freeman wasn’t in danger of a suspension at this point.
However, a player’s status is highly confidential, meaning someone leaked Freeman’s status to the media. According to the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) website, anyone found of leaking a player’s status in the program is subject to a fine between $10,000 and $500,000.
The league office, the Bucs, and Freeman’s representatives would know about Freeman’s status in the substance-abuse program, which means that the leak likely came from one of those outlets.
More importantly for the Bucs, however, is the fact that Freeman is not in danger of a suspension, which pushes his trade value up at least a little bit.
On Sunday, Freeman was banished to a suite at Raymond James Stadium, as he was not allowed to watch the game from the sideline. Several reports have indicated that at first, Freeman was in his own suite with family members, but then was forced to move to the designated “inactive suite.”
The drama surrounding Freeman and head coach Greg Schiano doesn’t appear to be coming to an end anytime soon. Unless, of course, the Bucs are able to trade Freeman or they decide to release him. Currently, the Bucs and general manager Mark Dominik are hopeful that they can get a mid-round pick in return for Freeman, according to NFL sources. But that appears unlikely because no team has expressed significant interest in the 25-year-old quarterback yet.
One team that is expected to take a long look at Freeman soon is the Minnesota Vikings. Team sources have said that inquiring about Freeman couldn’t hurt and that makes sense given that Minnesota is in dire need of a quarterback.
For now, though, Freeman remains on the Bucs roster, but it is unclear if he will continue to be inactive for games.
Slowly it is looking more and more like the Bucs are crafting a smear campaign against Freeman. The bad news has been flowing in at a rapid pace recently and there’s nothing Freeman can really do about it.
The Bucs have their own problems and Freeman is trying to find his way out of Tampa. So at this point, the sooner the two sides can part ways, the better.
For more Bucs news and updates, visit Bucs Central.
Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. Max is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.