In my last post I made some bold comments on PEDs and how to handle the players that abuse them. I proposed a one year ban for a player who violates the NFL’s banned substance policy and more frequent dope tests following the ban, and a lifetime ban from the NFL for the second offense. I feel so strongly about this issue because players who abuse various anabolic agents and hormones to make their bodies bigger, stronger, faster are gaining an unfair advantage over the competition, which to my mind is cheating.
However, it’s been pointed out to me that the problem with my proposal is that it is a simple, black-and-white solution to a problem that is many shades of gray. If the NFL did suddenly decide to crack down on all forms of cheating the league would probably go bankrupt fairly quickly. But that is a whole different can of worms that will be put aside for another day.
I came up with my proposal after reading some harsh words from a Brandon Browner interview with Sports Radio KJR. “At the end of the day we gotta win football games,” said Browner, “He’s never gonna be out there lined up against me. I wish he would; I’d put my hands around his neck.”
Browner’s comments were directed to San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh who said that he “definitely noticed” the rash of Seattle suspensions and that players “should play by the rules” while also saying his own players cheating wouldn’t be tolerated.
Browner certainly took exception to Harbaugh’s words and I took exception to Browner’s words and his attitude. Browner was defending his violation of the NFL’s banned substance policy and making bodily threats to Harbaugh who had the nerve to call out the Seahawks for breaking the rules. That was unacceptable.
So, in my haste to saddle up in my high horse and scold every NFL player who abuses a drug or chemical on the list of banned substances I forgot to consider to complexity of the issue and the various challenges the NFL faces in keeping substance abuse at a minimum.
One of those complex challenges is the “Adderall ghost” that has spread throughout the NFL. The Adderall problem is difficult to unravel. Adderall is on the banned substances list, however players who have a prescription can apply for an exemption from the NFL. John Moffitt, one of the six Seattle players who were supposedly suspended for Adderall had an old prescription but didn’t know he had to get approval from the NFL and didn’t appeal his suspension.
Players who test positive for a banned substance can say it was Adderall when it was actually something else and the NFL cannot refute them because they aren’t allowed to release what the player tested positive for. So, Moffitt and the other five Seattle players who had a positive test may say it was Adderall when it could’ve been steroids or growth hormones and the public is none the wiser.
Richard Sherman and Browner both claimed to be taking Adderall when their tests came back positive. That doesn’t eliminate the possibility that they were taking steroids or other stimulants.
There’s a lot of uncertainty regarding Adderall. In fact there’s still a debate over whether it is a performance enhancer or merely just a stimulant to keep players alert and focused. Either way, there is no easy solution to reverse the rise of athletes that are testing positive for amphetamines. However, I no longer believe that they should banned for life for violating policy.