Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Freeman meets with Schiano amid talk of confidentiality leak

TAMPA — Josh Freeman arrived at One Buc Place on Tuesday morning a few minutes before the 7:45 team meeting and was intercepted.

General manager Mark Dominik swooped in to tell him to hold back from joining his teammates until coach Greg Schiano spoke with him privately. So after Freeman attended a mandatory NFL gathering that began 15 minutes later, a summit between coach and quarterback was held to discuss the sad saga that seems to change by the hour.

Schiano controls the thermostats in the facility, but the heat was turned up a few degrees on the Bucs on their handling of Freeman.

Schiano said he was "absolutely not'' the source of confidential information leaked to the media about Freeman's participation in Stage 1 of the league's substance abuse program.

On Monday, Freeman said he voluntarily agreed to be randomly tested after switching from Adderall to Ritalin to treat ADHD. He claimed to have passed 46 league-administered drug tests over the last 18 months at One Buc Place.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen first reported Freeman's involvement in the substance abuse program Monday.

By Tuesday afternoon, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said he is "sufficiently concerned'' about hearsay evidence that the Bucs may have leaked confidential information about Freeman's participation in the substance abuse program to begin a joint investigation with the league.

Smith coincidentally was at One Buc Place on an annual swing to meet with players about union benefits.

"I believe that the league has the same interests that we have in trying to determine what happened,'' he said. "I look forward to working with (NFL commissioner) Roger (Goodell) and people from the league in order to conduct that investigation. It's also important for all of our players and fans to know that our system works if people abide by the rules. If we have a concern that the rules have been intentionally broken, no one is going to be exempt from the consequences."

Schiano would not comment on whether he was aware of Freeman's frequent participation in random drug tests after being hired by the Bucs last season or if he confronted Freeman.

"I really don't want to get into what Josh's thoughts are about how things got out," Schiano said. "I know what I've done and I'm 100 percent comfortable with my behavior."

Asked if he was the source of the breach, Schiano said, "absolutely not.'

In his statement Monday, Freeman accused members of the organization who may have witnessed his drug tests at One Buc Place of making "hurtful and incorrect assumptions and chosen to disseminate inaccurate and very disturbing information. It is a shame that when times have gotten tough, people have chosen to attack the character of others, rather than supporting each other."

Schiano took exception to Freeman's accusations Tuesday.

"Certainly, that's not what you want to happen at all," Schiano said. "But alluding to the accusations, I don't appreciate that, either, when someone is accused of something that's not true. At the end of the day, it's not a good thing and we need to just keep moving forward. We're beyond it."

Freeman practiced Tuesday but had little participation in the portion open to the media. The Bucs have a bye week.

Dominik is contacting 31 teams to determine trade interest in Freeman. The Bucs still owe him about $6.5 million this year, making a deal difficult.

Schiano said if was hard to determine how the Freeman saga has affected the team during its 0-4 start. "I think we have a strong locker room. Our guys are locked in on what we need to do."

Having Freeman at One Buc Place has not been uncomfortable, Schiano said.

"I understand the business end of the NFL and I believe he does as well," Schiano said. "I can't speak for him. It's not uncomfortable for me and I don't believe it is for him with our own relationship."

A relationship that can only be described as still frosty at best.

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