Last season, the Bears had two players suspended for using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). At the time of the suspension, Jeffery was the Bears number one wide receiver and was important to the offense. Freeman was Chicago’s top tackler and perhaps the defense’s best player. Both missed four games for violating the league’s rules on PED’s.
I often wondered why a player would decide to put something into their body that they knew was illegal. I had been told that there was a list of banned substances that was provided to the player and they could reference this list to check to see if the substance they wanted to take was on it. An example list can be found here: Example List of Banned Substances from 2014.
A while ago, I finished reading Pat Kirwan’s book Take your Eye off the Ball 2.0 and he had a very interesting thing to say about trainers and how they are supposed to help players avoid taking PEDs. Kirwan, in his book, Take your Eye off the Ball 2.0, said:
"“Trainers also need to be monitoring the supplements the players are taking. There is no excuse for a player failing a drug test over supplements. If a player really cares about doing the right thing instead of creating an advantage at any cost, he will bring in what he’s planning to take, hand it to the trainer, and say “I’m taking this tomorrow unless you tell me I can’t”. Then the trainer either signs off or doesn’t. Within the great organizations, the players and trainers have that kind of relationship.”"
So, perhaps, there wasn’t any trust built up between the training staff and Jeffery and Freeman. Perhaps that lack of trust didn’t make them feel comfortable enough to come and ask about the substances they wanted to take. Yes, the player should have known what they were doing but if they had felt comfortable enough they should have went to the training staff.
Purely speculation of course.
This is just another take on this problem. Remember too, the Bears had another player suspended for PED use in the last couple of years. Former Bear Ego Ferguson missed four games due to PED use. Is this just a trend among NFL players? Does it seem to affect the Bears more than other teams?
One thing is clear, the Bears need to figure out how to stop their players from using PEDs and getting caught. Four games is quite a bit of time to miss especially if that player is a key starter. The players have the tools. But is it that they don’t trust the training staff or they ignore the rules?