TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik responded boldly Sunday to a report that the NFL Players Association wants the NFL to join its investigation into whether Bucs coach Greg Schiano leaked information regarding former quarterback Josh Freeman’s status in the NFL’s substance-abuse program.
“We’re not afraid of an investigation,’’ Dominik said. “We would welcome it.’’
Dominik’s comments came a day after USAToday.com published a report saying the NFLPA discovered through its own investigation that Schiano might have told other Bucs players about Freeman’s status in the drug program. The NFLPA, according to the story, wants the NFL to help confirm its findings.
The NFLPA is seeking a joint investigation into the matter because that would allow union officials to question Schiano and other Bucs team officials they normally would not be allowed to interview.
The NFL responded early Sunday with a statement:
“We take the confidentiality provision of the policy as seriously as the union and will vigorously pursue any leads the union provides. However, such information should be shared confidentially with our office rather than inappropriately leaked to the media before the investigation has been concluded into the matter.’’
According to the USAToday.com report, the NFLPA learned through its own investigation that Schiano discussed Freeman’s status in the NFL drug program with other Bucs players before Freeman was released by the team on Oct. 3.
On Sept. 30, ESPN.com cited league and player sources in a story that said Freeman was a Stage One participant in the league program. Hours later, Freeman confirmed his participation, saying in a statement that he voluntarily entered the program after mistakenly taking Ritalin instead of Adderall to treat ADHD.
Freeman, who has since signed with the Minnesota Vikings, said in the statement he had been cleared by the league to take Adderall, adding that he had taken 46 drug tests as a participant in the program in the previous 18 months and has never tested positive for any illegal drugs.
On Oct. 1, Schiano denied leaking any information regarding Freeman’s status in the NFL substance abuse program. When asked directly if he had leaked any of Freeman’s confidential medical information, he said, “Absolutely not.’’
On Sunday, Schiano reacted to news of the players union seeking a joint investigation into the matter in much the same way Dominik did.
“We as an organization look forward to cooperating with the NFL and the NFLPA,’’ Schiano said. “I’ve already commented on it and we’ll leave it at that.’’