Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere or just returned from a third-world country, you know that Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata has been suspended four games for using a performance enhancing drug (“PED”).
That drug, as defined in the Baltimore Ravens press release, is Adderall.
The cynically-minded believe that Adderall was the reported PED because it isn’t attached to the same negative, dirty stigma that accompanies anabolic steroids and it has some medical value since it is used to treat those who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”).
In other words it’s a safer PR play, for the cynics that is.
Those same cynics will point to the improved play of Ngata in 2014 (he’s climbed from the 19th ranked DT in 2013 to the 8th ranked DE according to Pro Football Focus) while suspiciously wondering if the improvement is the result of an illicit boost – a little “juice” that isn’t prescribed for ADHD.
Suspended players are free to reveal the PED used that led to the suspension. The league can deny it if the PED revealed differs from the substance found in testing. But then again, given a league with a host of public relations disasters that they continue to sift through, why would they add to the mix by saying Ngata is lying and the substance was actually Testosterone or Stanozolol?
Until proven wrong, there’s no reason to refute Ngata’s admission that the PED was Adderall.
Not long ago I spoke to a league source about Adderall and was told that it is becoming a big problem in professional sports – and this was before Orioles infielder Chris Davis was busted for it by MLB.
And the problem might not be confined to the athletes. Coaches that have heavy demands on their time during the season may be susceptible to the lure of Adderall, often referred to as the “Beautiful Mind” drug. Its use is widespread in America’s college campuses among students looking for an edge during exams.
One prominent head coach, according to a source speaking under the condition of anonymity, has used Adderall during games to help elevate decision-making during crucial times in a fast-moving environment.
While such usage of the drug is somewhat understandable but certainly not condoned, how does it help a 340-pound athlete in the trenches at the line of scrimmage paid to knock around similarly statured athletes 700 snaps per season?
According to Dr. Gary Wadler, past chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List Committee, and now an associate professor of medicine at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, Adderall is “one of the quintessential performance-enhancing drugs.”
“It masks fatigue, masks pain, increases arousal — like being in The Zone.
“It increases alertness, aggressiveness, attention and concentration. It improves reaction time, especially when fatigued. Some think it enhances hand-eye coordination. Some believe it increases the mental aspects of performance.”
Adderall users also can benefit from increased speed, strength and power.
We’ve heard some unsubstantiated rumblings that Ngata has been sleep-deprived, stemming from his role as a father to three young children who at times struggle sleeping through the night.
Well welcome to life.
Ngata for all intents and purposes is in a contract season. He either performs extremely well in 2014 or he’ll never see the $8 million due to him next season under his current contract, particularly given his inconsistent play and history of nagging injuries which up until this year do not justify the salary and the huge cap number in 2015 of $16 million.
Haloti knows it, his agent knows it, the Ravens know it and you and I know it.
The suspension sucks and it puts the team’s fading playoff hopes further in jeopardy.
Regardless of Ngata’s excuse, his actions at best were ridiculously stupid and at worst both stupid and selfish. He betrayed his employer, his coaches, his teammates and the fans.
Unfortunately for a man who has given so much to the team, to the community and is considered to be a locker room leader, he’s more than likely finished as a Raven unless of course he accepts a huge pay cut.
But if this classic case of selfishness is any indication, it’s pretty clear how this story will end.