The “personal issue” for which Doug Martin has left the Buccaneers quickly became public.
“I was notified last week of a four-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy,” the fifth-year running back said in a statement released by the team. “My initial instinct was to appeal the suspension and finish the season with my teammates. However, after numerous discussions with people close to me — including Coach Koetter — I am starting the suspension immediately so I can enter a treatment facility and receive the help I truly need.”
The presence of the term “drug policy” implies that it’s a violation of the substance-abuse policy. Under the current formulation of the substance-abuse policy, multiple violations precede the violation that results in a four-game suspension.
“On the field, I must be strong and determined to push through both pain and injuries to become an elite NFL running back,” Martin said. “Off the field, I have tried that same approach in my personal life. My shortcomings in this area have taught me both that I cannot win these personal battles alone and that there is no shame in asking for help.”
By starting the suspension now, Martin will be required to serve three games at the outset of the 2017 season. He’ll also be one violation away from a 10-game suspension and two away from a banishment with the ability to apply for reinstatement after a year.
The announcement makes the team’s decision to not play him last weekend, and its intention not to play him this weekend, more understandable. It also means that the guarantees applicable to Martin’s 2017 salary have disappeared, making it easy for the team to avoid paying him $7 million next year.
UPDATE 4:53 p.m. ET: According to the NFL, Martin was suspended for violating the PED policy.