Keeping focus

Richard Sherman’s comments bring Adderall to the forefront

By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer

Richard Sherman, star cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, has always been a colourful character, to say the least. Having such a personality often leads to some negative media coverage, and Sherman just landed himself in some hot water. The outspoken all-pro recently went on record as saying that “half the league” takes Adderall.

The league was none too impressed with Sherman’s comments and released the following statement on the matter: “The comments are ill-informed and inaccurate. Adderall is easily detected under current testing and will result in a suspension absent an approved therapeutic use exemption.  If his statement were true, we would be seeing many more positive tests and suspensions. More importantly, his comments are irresponsible, as they ignore the serious medical risks and documented public health crisis associated with the improper use of Adderall and similar drugs.” Sherman quickly tried to cover his tracks by saying, “First off, I didn’t say that. It’s just another case of these writers trying to gain a little notoriety in an interview.” Amusingly, The Vancouver Sun, the newspaper in which the interview appeared, released a video proving the quote was correct; the quote was taken out of context but was there nonetheless. However, the take-away from the incident isn’t really about Sherman shooting his mouth off, but rather the growing image that Adderall is a normal and common drug for players to take.

Adderall, a drug usually prescribed for those with ADHD, is often used by those without the condition to help fuel or sustain their focus and energy. College students are known to take it around exam times when cramming or finishing final assignments. And how does that relate to football players? Playbooks are filled with endless diagrams that have to be studied and memorized; a slip-up studying can lead to big mistakes on the field. Players truly have to be students of the game. Late-night or early-morning film study sessions can be difficult to get through and getting pumped for a game isn’t easy all the time, and it appears that many are turning to Adderall to help them through the process.

There’s one problem though: Adderall is illegal and considered a performance-enhancing drug (PED) in the NFL. Some manage to get around this by procuring a prescription for the drug by some means, but the substance is likely being abused by the majority of its users in the league. Two recent cases of the NFL cracking down on Adderall use (according to the rumours) were the aforementioned Sherman, and fellow Seahawk Brandon Browner. Sherman fought the suspension and won by claiming that the sample was mishandled, but Browner simply took the four-game ban. While it will remain unconfirmed whether Adderall was actually to blame (due to the union preventing the league from releasing specifics of drug tests), no one has raised any complaints about the rumours.

With that said, players likely help fan the flames of these rumours for one simple reason: who cares if you’re using Adderall? There’s no real stigma about it, and many members of the public make use of it themselves. If one were to fail a drug test, would you rather it be for steroids or Adderall? By having the results of which PED they took remain private, players can hide behind the smokescreen of uncertainty and almost portray themselves as victims. Getting suspended for a studying aid? It comes off as a little harsh.

Of course, the players who slip through the drug tests are only hurting themselves. The long-term effects of Adderall can include cardiovascular problems and strokes, and mental health issues such as depression, hostility, and paranoia. For a league that seems to have a constant uproar about player safety, it’s ironic to see how some players are putting their future health at risk entirely of their own accord.