NFLPA Gunning For Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano


Aug 8, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano reviews the play call during the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Raymond James Stadium. Baltimore defeated Tampa Bay 44-16. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Drama is drama, and karma is karma. Drama has surrounded the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their ex-quarterback Josh Freeman for some time now. Karma has finally stepped into the picture with the breaking news that the NFL Players Association has asked the NFL to participate in a “joint investigation that would allow union officials to question the man they believe is behind a breach of quarterback Josh Freeman’s confidential information”.

Plain and simple? Josh Freeman was the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and now he’s not. Before Josh was kicked to the curb there was a lot of “”He said, she said” going on between the Buc’s head coach Greg Schiano and Josh Freeman, but mainly with Schiano and the sports news media. It started out low-key, then got out of hand.

At some point allegations were made by an “anonymous source” who passed information to the news media about what is considered private medical information about Josh Freeman. Now the NFLPA wants a joint investigation with the NFL. Why? It seems that the NFLPA doesn’t trust the NFL to follow through with punishment.

"“In correspondence obtained Saturday by USA TODAY Sports, the union says it has no confidence in the NFL’s separate investigation, in part because the union is unaware of any previous league investigation into a confidentiality breach that has yielded discipline.”"

The controversy has to do with media leaks about “Freeman’s status in the league’s substance-abuse program”. After the hamster got out of the cage Freeman confirmed he was in stage one of the substance-abuse program, but only after after ESPN blabbed the story, and cited “unnamed league and player sources”.

Now? Freeman went public saying “he has NEVER tested positive for any illegal drugs”… Bear in mind that ADHD medication is legal with a doctor’s prescription. Josh backed it up by volunteering to submit to additional testing “after a positive result triggered by switching his ADHD medication without notifying the league.”

Schiano? After Freeman made his statement Schiano said he was “absolutely not” the source of the information. A simple denial may not be enough however to keep both the NFL and Schiano out of hot water.

First, the NFLPA claims to have direct knowledge of how the leak occurred, “when Schiano discussed Freeman’s status in the league’s substance-abuse program with other Buccaneers players”. Bear in mind that there has been some player “discord” over the way the affair was handled. If the NFLPA has a statement from a witness they have a case.

  • Second, leaks of this type are a violation of federal law, namely the HIPAA Law. Failure to comply with HIPAA can result in civil and criminal penalties (42 USC § 1320d-5).
  • Even the NFL isn’t off the hook on this one:

    "“The HIPAA Privacy regulations require health care providers and organizations, as well as their business associates, develop and follow procedures that ensure the confidentiality and security of protected health information (PHI) when it is transferred, received, handled, or shared. This applies to all forms of PHI, including paper, oral, and electronic, etc.” (emphasis mine)"

    Here’s what we pulled up on maximum penalties: When HIPAA violation is due to willful neglect and is not corrected, $50,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $1.5 million.
    Stay tuned peeps; this will get interesting.