Union boss wants joint investigation on Freeman breach
The NFL Player’s Association has asked the league for a joint investigation into who leaked confidential information about Josh Freeman’s participation in the substance abuse program.
DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the players’ union, would not reveal the identity of the individuals with the Bucs the union believes violated federal laws and the collective bargaining agreement by discussing Freeman’s confidential medical information.
But he said punishment should be based on whether the information was leaked with the intent to harm Freeman.
“I do believe if you look at not so much the facts are as to what was leaked but really the intent behind it,’’ Smith said Sunday during an interview on 620WDAE. “If the release of the information was deliberate, if it was malicious, if was intended to harm, those are the issues that will typically motivate the level of punishment.’’
A story in USA Today Saturday said the union believes Bucs coach Greg Schiano leaked information about Freeman’s participation in the league’s substance abuse program during conversations with other Bucs players.
Schiano was unavailable for comment Saturday night but has denied being the source of that information. “Absolutely not,’’ he said recently.
Freeman, 25, confirmed he is in stage one of the substance abuse program in a statement Sept. 30, hours after ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported the information, citing unnamed league and player sources.
In that statement, Freeman said he never tested positive for any illegal drugs and voluntarily submitted to additional testing after switching from his prescribed ADHD medication without notifying the NFL.
“The real goal here is, I believe, to work with together to make sure that the rules that are in place that are as you know are federal rules, federal rules of HIPPA as well as rules under the CBA are enforced,’’ Smith said. “And if we’re under a situation where a team or a team official believes that they can operation outside of those rules, we have truly reached a point in the National Football League where one has come to a conclusion that football players deserve less than you or I do.’’
Smith would not comment on whom the union believes leaked the information on Freeman.
“Right now we wouldn’t tell you the facts at this point in the investigation because I believe that even for people who may have engaged in misconduct, it’s important to hear their side of the story,’’ he said.
Smith said the Bucs should be motivated to find the individuals responsible for the breach.
“I would believe that any team would want to have the reputation of being a good workplace to work in because after all these are teams the same teams that are going to be looking for free agents in the future and perhaps the union needs to do a better job of informing potential free agents as to what teams are good work places what teams respect their rights as men and what teams provide the best medical care or quality of medical care and I believe every team would want to be in a situation where they could say this is truly one of the best places in the NFL to work,’’ Smith said.