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Key factor for Joe Haden to avoid suspension is prior approval from league to use Adderall

Aug 10, 2012 -- 11:40am

By Tony Grossi

Joe Haden’s hope of avoiding an NFL suspension rests on whether he received permission from the league’s independent administrator on anabolic steroids and related substances to use Adderall. He cannot try to state his case after the fact, according to league policy.

ESPN Cleveland reported on Wednesday that Haden is facing a possible four-game suspension for testing positive for Adderall, a stimulant on the league’s list of banned substances.

Adderall is an amphetamine that is medically prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It is commonly abused to fight off tiredness.

Haden has declined to comment on the ESPN Cleveland report or whether he had a medical reason for taking Adderall.

After Browns practice Wednesday night in Cleveland Browns Stadium, Haden said, “Everybody knows who I am. Honestly, my friends and my family, they know exactly who I am. All the Haden Nation supporters, they know who I am, and you can’t put up a front. So I’m just going to just keep balling, keep looking forward to the next game and keep doing my thing.”

However, the Browns are expected to soon prepare for Haden’s suspension by promoting Dimitri Patterson to his starter’s role, and auditioning Buster Skrine and others for the third cornerback spot.

The existence of Adderall on the NFL’s banned substance list has been mildly controversial within the league because some players legitimately are prescribed the drug to correct a hyperactive disorder.

“One of the most common traits in my 18 years of scouting was ADHD,” said Russ Bolinger, a former NFL scout most recently with the St. Louis Rams. “The reality is, hyperactive kids make good football players. If you can channel the ADHD, you have a good football player.

“You’d be amazed at how many kids have it. It’s real prevalent. I would say at least six out of the 10 kids I scouted had at least ADD (Attention Deficit Discorder) or ADHD. When they use the word ‘motor,’ that’s usually a kid that’s hyper. He  just can’t sit still enough to study. Sometimes drugs are the only things that work.”

To accomodate players who medically need the drug, the league program allows a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).

“You have to demonstrate a clear medical reason for taking it,” said Greg Aiello, NFL spokesman.

Aiello agreed to speak only on the issue as it regards to the league’s substance program and would not comment on ESPN Cleveland’s report on Haden.

Aiello said that prior to 2010, players who tested positive for a banned substance had the chance to receive a TUE to avoid a suspension. In 2010, the players union agreed to eliminate this loophole.

“Now the TUE has to be granted by the program administrator, a doctor, in advance of a positive test,” Aiello said.

“When it shows up in your urine, you’re responsible,” said Bolinger. “Some of the guys are claiming they had a prescription. Well, then they should have reported it beforehand.”

A four-game suspension would cost Haden four game checks – in his case, more than $1.356 million. Also, the NFLPA agreed in 2010 to disqualify suspended players from selection to the Pro Bowl and other honors or awards for the season in which the violation occurred.

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi


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