NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith is concerned about the breaks of confidentiality involving Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman's status in the NFL substance-abuse program.
So much so that a joint investigation with the NFL will be launched into the leaks to ESPN that Freeman is in Stage 1 of the NFL drug program. Freeman issued a statement saying he accidentally took Ritalin, which he didn't have preauthoritization for to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, instead of his approved Adderall and suggested that the Buccaneers leaked the information about him. Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano has denied doing so.
Freeman said he has passed 46 NFL drug tests.
“I think we are sufficiently concerned about what we've heard to begin an investigation,'' Smith said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “I believe that the league has the same interests that we have in trying to determine what happened. I look forward to working with (NFL commissioner) Roger (Goodell) and people from the league in order to conduct that investigation. But on behalf of our players, it's also important for all of our players and fans to know that our system works if people abide by the rules. If we have a concern that the rules have been intentionally broken, no one is going to be exempt from the consequences.
“We believe it's important to maintain the confidentiality. I appreciate the manner in which Josh has handled this personally because he is a good young man. But this issue is a bigger issue about what's right with respect to the relationship between players and management and when those issues come to bear, this is a union that will stand up for its players. We have a collective bargaining agreement that mandates and protects confidentiality and privacy. If we believe that any member of the team management or anyone from the league has deliberately taken steps to thwart that privacy and to breach that confidentiality, this union will take every step and file every grievance and pursue any law to rectify that.''
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun.