The National Football League has a long list of banned substances. Many are perfectly legal. Some are things you or I may use, things we buy in drug stores.
Doesn’t matter. If the NFL says you can’t take it, you can’t take it. And players can’t hide behind not knowing if something was banned, because the league has a list of banned substances, and has a hotline for players to call if they don’t know if a substance is on that list.
In June, Green Bay Packers defensive Mike Neal got a four-game suspension for using Adderall, a prescription medication for attention deficit disorder,
“It was Adderall,” Neal said in this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story. “I’m not ashamed to say it. If I would have known, I wouldn’t have had this problem. We’re going through everything right now to get my prescription finalized with the NFL. …I’ve never took any steroids. I haven’t done any HGH. It was an Adderall situation and that’s unfortunate.”
Neal did obtain a prescription for Adderall, but not through the team doctor. He doesn’t see why the drug warrants a suspension.
Adderall is a is a brand name of amphetamine medication used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. The NCAA bans its competitors from using it.
“If you look at Adderall, are you going to come in here and run faster, jump higher, are you going to block some passes, are you going to sack the quarterback? So in my eyes, I didn’t do anything wrong. I just went and sought help that I thought I needed. …As far as I’m concerned, if you consider Adderall a performance-enhancing drug then I think a lot of people would be fired from their jobs because a lot of people take it.”
That’s fine, but … the NFL says you can’t take Adderall.
Today, it was announced second-year New York Giants safety Tyler Sash of Iowa was given a four-game suspension, with an appeal already lost. The reason: Using Adderall.
In a prepared statement, Sash said he took the drug “under a doctor’s care for an anxiety condition.”
“I had no idea this prescription drug was banned by NFL policy,” he added.
You ever use the “I didn’t know …” explanation with a traffic cop who stopped you for speeding? It doesn’t get you very far, does it?
Especially in this case, since more than one NFL player has been suspended in the last few years for using Adderall. There were Ahmard Hall of the Tennessee Titans, Garrett Hartley of the New Orleans Saints, and Ben Patrick of the Arizona Cardinals. All used long late-night drives as their reasons for taking the drug.
I’m not questioning or doubting anything Sash said in his statement, and he said he’ll be a stand-up guy and meet the media on Wednesday. If there’s more to the story, there’s more to the story.
But NFL players are constantly told they’re responsible for everything they put in their bodies. If you’re prescribed something for an anxiety condition and you’re an NFL player, the first thing you need to do is find out if you’re allowed to use that substance.
It has been reported Sash’s four-game suspension will cost him $109,000 of salary, not to mention a lot of embarrassment. It certainly won’t enhance his standing with Giants coaches.