We reported last night that the NFLPA is “coming after everyone” who may have been involved in leaking to ESPN the news that Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman is in Stage One of the league’s substance-abuse program.
On Tuesday, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith delivered the same message, with different words.
“We are sufficiently concerned about what we’ve heard to begin an investigation,” Smith said after meeting with Tampa players on Tuesday, for a session that was scheduled before Freeman and the Bucs found themselves in an ever-disintegrating feud.
“We have a collective bargaining agreement that mandates and protects confidentiality and privacy,” Smith said. “If we believe that any member of the team management or anyone from the league has deliberately taken steps to thwart that privacy and to breach that confidentiality, this union will take every step and file every grievance and pursue any law to rectify that. We believe that it’s important to maintain the confidentiality.”
It’s unclear how the information got out. Per multiple league sources, teams don’t know when their players are in Stage One of the substance-abuse program. So the specific leak from Monday may not have come from the Bucs.
But the leaks that led to talk of drug use possibly came earlier, when Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano found himself accused of Enron-style accounting regarding the captain vote. The Bucs had every reason then to begin to spread not-so-positive things about Freeman.
Hopefully, the NFLPA will be able to piece together exactly when and how (and if) a smear campaign was launched against Freeman by the Bucs, or by someone else.