Bruce Irvin’s four-game suspension, presumably for testing positive for the banned substance Adderall, finds Seattle Seahawks fans taking extreme sides on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs.
One camp fears whatever accomplishments await the Seahawks in 2013 will be mocked by national pundits, who have come to call Pete Carroll’s team “the Seadderall Seahawks.”
Carroll long has courted a culture of permissiveness, the thinking goes, and his willingness to acquire athletes who’ve misbehaved off the field will undermine everything they do on the field.
Another camp wonders: So what? These, after all, are pro football players committed to a violent occupation, not Nobel Peace Prize candidates. If a stimulant such as Adderall gives them an edge, well, welcome to the real world.
My stance on this is somewhere in between. I’m certain a potential Super Bowl appearance by the Seahawks won’t be marked by an asterisk in the record book. If the Seahawks make a playoff run, fans outside the Pacific Northwest will little note, nor long remember, the early season suspension of a second-year pass rusher.
But Irvin’s positive test is consistent with a troubling pattern involving banned substances and the Seahawks, and it calls for a much more authentic response than a shrug of the shoulders. “Epidemic” might be too strong a term, but there’s a problem, and it’s possible the problem is pervasive.
Irvin on Friday was identified as the seventh Seahawks player to test positive since 2011. Six of them – practice squad running back Vai Taua, guard John Moffitt, tackle Allen Barbre, safety Winston Guy, cornerback Brandon Browner and Irvin – were slapped with suspensions. The seventh, cornerback Richard Sherman, avoided losing a month’s worth of paychecks by successfully appealing his case. (Sherman maintained his sample was compromised by a chain-of-custody error.)
Sherman has estimated that half the players in the league use Adderall, prescribed by pharmacists as a drug for those suffering attention-deficit disorder symptoms. To everybody else, it works like speed – 10 cups of coffee in a single gulp – and good luck breaking the habit.