Aqib Talib expects more PED suspensions, recalls experience playing on Adderall: 'It was like a video game'

Jordan Cohn
December 02, 2020 - 11:33 am

At first, Aqib Talib had the same thought that many sports fans likely had after hearing the news that Will Fuller and Bradley Roby had been suspended for violating the league's performance enhancing substances policy.

"What the f--- is y'all boys doing out there, bro?" Talib said jokingly to co-host Harrison Sanford on his "Call to the Booth" podcast before explaining what may have happened. "It's not like those guys [are] out there taking steroids, trying to get advantages. It's just a situation where you know you're trying to take care of the body, you think you're doing the right thing, you think you got a good plug or good connection, somebody who is trying to help you take care of yourself, and he's just not being as cautious as you are because it's not him. His name isn't the one that is going to come up and be suspended.

"...A little birdie told me a couple more guys [are] going to come up, a couple more guys who use this dude, and there's a couple more names that are going to come up with some six-game suspensions."

Talib didn't say who he suspects regarding either the players who might be suspended or the figure behind the banned substances, but he did recall a similar experience that he went through in his playing days. A five-time Pro Bowler in each year from 2013 to 2017, Talib's most memorable days happened after his four-and-a-half-year stint in Tampa Bay that began his career. A failed drug test at the end of that stay marked a turning point in his career, but it wasn't one he thought was at the risk of occurring.

In 2012, entering his fifth season with the Buccaneers, Talib took and passed the team's annual street drug test around training camp. It was after that test that Talib and fellow cornerback Eric Wright heard murmurings about Adderall and what it could do to help you out on the field, though he claimed that neither of them knew it was considered a performance enhancing substance.

"We're hearing all of the Adderall stories... Adderall this, Adderall that, so we're like, let's see, let's see what the hell everybody [is] taking Adderall for while they play football, right?" Talib said, adding that they decided to take it before a practice that would put them in a game setting. "We're going against Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson — that's the two receivers on the Bucs.

"... I tell you, Harrison — Adderall is a performance enhancing drug. I was locked in. I was faster. I was thinking about the route... it was like a video game, Harrison. Real sh--. I was like a machine. I was like Mega Man."

Though he didn't record any interceptions, he said that it was one of his best practices ever, with lockdown coverage and great pass breakups occurring often. The same went for Wright, on the other side, who Talib says picked off a couple of passes and similarly had an amazing practice.

"We had the best practices we've ever had, so we're like, 'oh hell yea, we're taking these for the game,' " Talib said. "[It] just so happened we had a PED test like two days later. Next thing you know, me and E-Wright failed, boom, PEDs. So we're like, 'what the f---, bro? We ain't take no steroids.' "

But after seeing the list of substances under the NFL's policy, Talib realized that Adderall was, in fact, banned. He ended up missing four games, getting traded in the months following, and the rest is history — mostly good history, for the Super Bowl champion. Still, he learned a lesson that he relayed to current athletes like Fuller and Roby, regardless of the substance they're taking and whether or not it's one that could be banned.

"You're just trying to help yourself, you're trying to tae care of yourself, you're trying to make sure you're performing at the highest ability when you go out there," Talib said. "But, man, [you] just gotta be smart. You gotta be safe, you gotta get everything checked, you gotta do extra investigating... when it comes to that kind of stuff."

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