TAMPA, Fla. - Benched Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman said he has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and voluntarily entered the NFL substance abuse program more than a year ago after mistakenly taking a medication to treat the condition.
Freeman said Monday night in a statement released by his agent that he has passed all 46 drug tests he's taken for the league since once using Ritalin instead of Adderall to treat ADHD.
The fifth-year pro was benched last Wednesday after leading the Bucs to an 0-3 start that included a pair of losses on last-second field goals.
Freeman said he has been "prescribed and permitted to take medication" to treat ADHD for the entirety of his NFL career.
"Let me be very clear. I have never tested positive for any illegal drugs or related substances," the 2009 first-round draft pick said in the statement released by agent Erik Burkhardt.
The testing has been conducted at the Buccaneers training facility, and Freeman believes someone there leaked information about it.
"Since the confidentiality of my medical status has been publicly violated, I am choosing to address this matter so that grossly erroneous assumptions about me do not persist," the quarterback said.
"Like millions of Americans, I have ADHD and I have been prescribed and permitted to take medication to treat this condition for the entirety of my NFL career. Well over a year ago, I took a different medication for the same condition (Ritalin rather than Adderall), and to assure everyone that the error was a one-time mistake, I agreed to be voluntarily tested.'"
The statement said that since entering the league program Freeman has passed every test he's been given, adding they screen for "every drug and banned substance imaginable."
The quarterback agreed to testing at the Bucs complex "because I spend all of my time there and I have nothing whatsoever to hide or be embarrassed about."
Freeman, who became the first 4,000-yard passer in Bucs history last season, was benched in favour of rookie Mike Glennon, who made his first pro start during Sunday's 13-10 loss to Arizona.
Freeman was declared inactive for the game by coach Greg Schiano and watched from a suite at Raymond James Stadium. In a television interview with ESPN last week, the 25-year-old said a trade might be the best solution for him and the team.
"Unfortunately, it appears that some people who may have noticed the testing at my workplace have made hurtful and incorrect assumptions and chosen to disseminate inaccurate and very disturbing information," Freeman said.
"It is a shame that when times have gotten tough, people have chosen to attack the character of others, rather than supporting each other," the statement added. "I remain dedicated and focused to being the best quarterback I can be and to help a team win a championship."