There was a story on Monday that Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman is in stage one of the league's substance-abuse program.
And with that leaked news, the Buccaneers-Freeman relationship really goes off the rails. There's a small, small chance that it was someone close to Freeman who chose to leak that news as the player faces an uncertain future after being benched. ESPN cited "league and player sources" in the report.
No matter if Freeman skipped meetings last week after being benched, as was reported, or missed a team photo or anything else that has been said about him, that news being leaked is a major breach of his privacy rights. Someone broke common decency and etiquette to reveal that news. This goes well beyond the team banishing him to a suite for Sunday's game. Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano said it was a mutual decision, but Freeman's agent told the Tampa Bay Times that Schiano was lying.
Freeman was understandably upset to see his status in the drug program became public, and that came through loud and clear through a statement he released to Pro Football Talk through his agents.
Here's Freeman's statement, which PFT had first:
"Let me be very clear. I have NEVER tested positive for any illegal drugs or related substances. Further, I have agreed to take, and have PASSED 46 NFL-regulated drug tests over the last year and a half.
Since the confidentiality of my medical status has been publicly violated, I am choosing to address this matter so that grossly erroneous assumptions about me do not persist. 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. 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." 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.
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. It is a shame that when times have gotten tough, people have chosen to attack the character of others, rather than supporting each other. I remain dedicated and focused to being the best quarterback I can be and to help a team win a championship."
This situation keeps deteriorating. Just when you thought that Freeman not being allowed on the sideline Sunday and the bickering that followed marked the low point, the childish backbiting got much, much worse on Monday.
It doesn't seem the public battles can get any worse than this embarrassing low point, but we'll wait to see what both sides can come up with over the rest of the week.