As we all learn more about Adderall, the ADD medication that gives people without ADD laser-sharp focus and concentration, more questions are emerging.
For starters, we’re all learning that, even though it doesn’t enhance performance by helping guys run faster or push harder, it provides an unnatural level of mental acuity. Beyond its impact on the day of games, the added focus can help some of the 37 players per team who will get cut before the start of every season learn the playbooks, pay attention during meetings, and otherwise seem to be better students of the game than they really are.
But we’re also learning that the drug is used for reasons unrelated to football. As explained by Jorge Castillo of the Newark Star-Ledger, Giants safety Tyler Sash claims he took it in March to combat nerves before events in his hometown celebrating Sash’s role in a Super Bowl win.
After getting a prescription from his doctor to help deal with the fact that he’d be expected to speak on Tyler Sash Day (a Saturday) and then when receiving a key to the city (a Sunday), Sash learned on Monday that his number had come up for a random drug screen. Sash tested positive, lost the appeal because he didn’t have a therapeutic use exemption (despite having a prescription), served a four-game suspension, and lost $120,000.
Here’s the problem. Why does the NFL care about whether a guy takes Adderall when he’s not working? Offseason programs no longer launch until April. There’s no edge to be obtained in February or March (or dead period in June and July) by using it.
The fact that the NFLPA has agreed to a continuous ban makes the issue moot, but the league office likely won’t be inclined to adjust the testing procedures during future negotiations. Though the NFL’s ultimate position would be that Adderall is a prescription medication that should not be abused, the league is an employer, not a law-enforcement agency. When there’s little or no connection between use or abuse of any prescription or illegal drugs and performance once the player is working, any effort to tell players what they can and can’t do seems to go too far.