There’s been a back-and-forth between Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and the NFL concerning an interview Sherman did with the Vancouver Sun. Lost in the “he-said-the-league-said” nature of the argument was a point Sherman made while defending his comments on the NFL Network today. How can the NFL allow Adderall — which is banned unless prescribed by a doctor — to be used by even a small percentage of the league without admitting it allows players to take a performance-enhancing drug?
This whole thing started when Sherman said that “about half the league” takes Adderall, the prescription drug that he was suspended for allegedly taking last year (the suspension was later overturned on appeal). When the NFL called the comments “inaccurate” and Sherman himself “irresponsible,” Sherman claimed he never said “half the league” takes it on NFL AM today. (the transcript released by Sun reporter Mike Beamish says otherwise, but that’s besides the point). He stood by the comments, however, adding “I’ve never heard a prescribed drug called a performance enhancer in any other sport.”
Adderall, like other prescription drugs, is illegal unless ordered by a doctor. That makes it illegal for NFL players to take it unless they are — you guessed it — ordered to do so by a doctor. So it’s a banned substance in the NFL, unless you’re allowed to take it, in which case you’re allowed to take it.
That means players that need to take it are given license to take what is described as a performance-enhancer. Does the NFL think that they are simply leveling an otherwise uneven playing field? Anyone who takes Adderall — because they need to, or because they’re a stressed-out college student who has a mid-term to finish — will agree that it gives you an advantage.
This is a gray area that the NFL needs to address, and Sherman — regardless of how he got the point across — hit the nail on the head.