Tyler Sash Suspension Proves NFL Substance Abuse Policy Is a Bunch of Nonsense

Michael Schottey@SchotteyNFL National Lead WriterAugust 2, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 15:  Tyler Sash #39 of the New York Giants celebrates against the Green Bay Packers during their NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 15, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If players like Tyler Sash have to serve a suspension under then NFL's substance abuse policy, the policy needs to go.

Sash, a safety for the New York Giants, was suspended by the NFL after testing positive for Adderall—a drug he was legally taking after it was prescribed to help treat his anxiety. Other uses for this legal drug include treating ADHD and narcolepsy.

Interestingly enough, building muscle, running faster and growing two inches are not among the listed side effects.

However, Adderall does contain amphetamines, and just like baseball players taking "greenies," the NFL is wise to regulate drugs that could not only give a competitive advantage, but could ruin lives in a heartbeat (literally) if abused.

So, for the sake of Roger Goodell's apparent tone-deafness, let's repeat: Tyler Sash was prescribed Adderall by his doctor for a legitimate reason to treat a legitimate problem.

Sash's agent, Jack Bechta, pointed out to Bleacher Report that:

[Sash] tested positive on March 22nd, with no training camp or competition anywhere in sight, no reason to seek a competitive advantage. Now he's labeled a cheater for taking a prescription under a doctors care...The question that needs to be asked is: What right does the NFL have to come between the doctor and a patient, especially in dealing with a potentially embarrassing issue in the offseason?

This is how our medical system works. This is how people are required to access the help they need. If the NFL is seriously suspending people for doing the right thing, Goodell has seriously gone off the deep end, and I'll need to find a doctor to refill my prescription of crazy pills.

If the absurdity of this hasn't sunk in yet, let Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith spell it out:

One NY Giant took a legal prescription drug and NFL suspended him 4 games. Another drove with a .18 blood alcohol level--no suspension.

— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) August 2, 2012

Sash didn't hurt anyone, and he didn't compromise the integrity of the game. His teammate, David Diehl, put countless people potentially in danger on his little alcohol-fueled joyride, and the NFL has done nothing about him or the rest of the rash of DUIs this offseason.

Diehl broke actual laws. He abused a legal substance and could have killed someone. Sash broke no laws, using a legal substance legally, according to his doctor's instructions. His only crime is naivete.

Bechta again:

Tyler was in the rookie class that didn't get a rookie symposium, had no one to come to the Giants facilities to talk about anabolic steroids. I don't know any player who has read the NFL's anabolic steroids policy.

This is the state of the NFL's substance abuse policy: a wide net full of plenty of holes, more apt to catch players doing things the right way rather than those who truly deserve suspension. Those who want to abuse drugs illegally know when and where to do it and what to do to avoid detection.

The only people being suspended by the NFL are those who aren't doing anything wrong are those who are too stupid to avoid detection (see: Detroit Lions).

If players like Marshawn Lynch can sneak past suspension, the system needs help. If countless players like Nick Fairley aren't deterred from substance abuse, the system isn't working. If a player like Tyler Sash needs to pay for taking a medication his doctor gives him, the system is just a bunch of nonsense.

Michael Schottey is the NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff alongside other great writers at "The Go Route."


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