It was pretty clear that the relationship between Josh Freeman and Greg Schiano wasn’t exactly going to come to a mutually beneficial ending, but last night Schiano went scorched earth on in either a) a misguided attempt to save his own job or b) one of the biggest dick moves in modern NFL history. Helping him lead the charge was NFL “Insider” Chris Mortensen who evidently gets that title due to his being embedded directly into the anus of any head coach who’s willing to file his “inactives” 15 minutes early on Sundays. It was a transparent case of an organization trying to trash a player for not taking a benching with a smile on his face and tap-shoes on his feet, and a reporter going who is more than happy to play the role of greedy attorney in the divorce.
The initial report came out about an hour before Monday Night Football. ESPN kicked the mess off with a sensational headline implying that Josh Freeman had run afoul of the NFL’s drug testing policy. Mortensen claimed to have a “scoop” that strongly implied that Freeman’s drug issues were related with his schism with Bucs management. Only anyone who read the facts contained in the article would reach a strikingly different conclusion. Here are the actual facts from the initial post:
- Josh Freeman had been diagnosed with something
- He had a prescription for a medicine that was banned by the NFL
- He was permitted by the league to use said medication
- Chris Mortensen is an asshole
That’s it. That was the whole story. Why would a story like this be published on ESPN with a headline that implies that Josh Freeman has a previously unreported drug issue? Besides, you know the fact that Mortensen is the Ron Burgandy of ESPN and will publish any press release that you send him?
We can surmise that someone in the Bucs organization leaked this info because really, who else would know or care that Freeman had a prescription for a disorder as benign as ADHD? Basically Greg Schiano is grasping at the same straws he’s kept within arms reach ever since he was hired by the Bucs. He came in guns blazing, ready to clean house of all the “distractions” that were brought in under the previous regime. This latest move is
nothing but a post-mortem justification of the decision to go with football giraffe Mike Glennon who has looked less than impressive so far. Schiano’s hoping that a transition to a QB that HE drafted will provide him with enough rope to get through the season before he hangs himself.
Former Bucs player and current radio host/SB Nation contributor Stephen White rightfully points out that this isn’t the first time that the Bucs organization has leaked private medical information in order to paint themselves in a better light. When it came time for the team to resign Michael Bennett, they leaked information about a shoulder injury and let him walk, hurting Bennett’s value as a free agent. When the team brought in higher-priced free agents, they left without signing due to the team’s implications that they had character concerns and wouldn’t be a fit as “Buccaneer Men” some figment of high character that obviously includes “leaking information about minute medical conditions of a player you just benched.”
Ok, so Freeman has ADHD and he took Adderall. The fact that someone in the Bucs organization circled that piece of information on a white board shows you how petty, vindicitive, and mean-spirited they are. The fact that Mort ran with it is worse. This is a non-story. It should never have been reported, and the fact that it was shows that Mort is either a megaphone for any NFL coach who wants to use him, or is completely senile. Either way Mortensen was a willing participant in the character assassination of a player whose only crime was not demanding a trade two years ago when they brought Schiano into town.
Freeman responded to all of this information being leaked with a statement of his own that details his ADHD diagnosis and prescribed use of Adderall and Ritalin. This is a disorder that affects millions of Americans, it’s like the Bucs leaking the fact that Josh Freeman has acne and expecting the media to camp out on his lawn. While we’re at it let’s open up the books and see how many members of NFL coaching staffs have prescriptions for Adderall and dock them draft picks for PED use. I would argue that it’s more beneficial for a coach to take ADD medication than it is for a player.
It looks like Schiano and Mortensen overplayed their shitty hands, and in the process turned Josh Freeman into a sympathetic figure. If the NFL finds evidence that he was behind the leak he needs to be suspended immediately. The Bucs will be better off for it.