The past few weeks have already been miserable for Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman. All throughout September, he was bashed for sleeping through a team photo and losing his captaincy through a team vote. On Sunday, he was officially benched in favor of rookie Mike Glennon. And now Tampa Bay has leaked information on Freeman’s involvement in the NFL’s drug program.
The latter is not only something that reflects negatively on the embattled quarterback, but also on head coach Greg Schiano and the Bucs organization in general. Freeman’s teammates weren’t even supposed to know about him being in the program – let alone the media. So now the NFL is investigating the matter because leaking sensitive information of this nature is a huge violation of league standards.
When news first surfaced about Freeman’s alleged drug problem, people began to connect the dots. A missed team photo, a loss of confidence in him by the coaching staff, losing his job to a rookie third-rounder…it all added up to a major problem. However, the truth is that Freeman voluntarily checked himself into the NFL’s drug program after accidentally taking Ritalin instead of Adderall to treat his ADHD.
The fifth-year quarterback’s actions are certainly not despicable by any means. But the violation of his privacy is, and it’s something that Freeman won’t take lightly. “Since the confidentiality of my medical status has been publicly violated,” he said, “I am choosing to address this matter so that grossly erroneous assumptions about me do not persist.”
At this point, there’s no word on who leaked the info to the press. But Freeman strongly suggested that it’s somebody within Tampa Bay as he said, “Unfortunately, it appears that some people who may have noticed the testing at my workplace have made hurtful and incorrect assumptions, and chosen to disseminate inaccurate and very disturbing information.”
Leaking Josh Freeman’s involvement in a drug program is just the latest disaster for the Buccaneers. They’ve opened the year with zero wins through their first four games and have looked very undisciplined under Schiano. Many people have already been calling for the head coach to be fired, and now it’s highly likely that somebody from his staff smeared Freeman.
Schiano denied having any knowledge of who’s been talking to the press. But it certainly doesn’t reflect well upon him since he was never a supporter of Freeman to begin with. Now Tampa Bay’s front office has even more ammunition to fire him, beyond a winless start to this season.
Moving past Schiano, Freeman and the Bucs, this situation is bad for the entire league. The NFL has been working hard to ensure that players feel comfortable approaching team officials about personal and substance abuse problems. With the disaster that Freeman has experienced in Tampa Bay, players may think twice about discussing these matters with coaches.
This is especially true if somebody has a more severe problem than mistakenly taking Ritalin. If a player struggles with an alcohol or cocaine addiction, they’d be very wary about the press finding out.
Taking all of this into account, you can bet that Rodger Goodell and league officials will take this situation very seriously. At the least, somebody is getting suspended when the NFL finds out what happened. And now Schiano has to worry even more about the status of his job.