Doug Martin Suspended 4 Games For Substance Abuse
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced Wednesday that star running back Doug Martin has been suspended by the NFL for four games for violating the league’s drug policy.
Martin’s absence from Wednesday’s practice raised a few eyebrows, but head coach Dirk Koetter told reporters that the absence was excused and that Martin would be releasing a statement later in the day. The statement is as follows:
“I was notified last week of a four-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy. My initial instinct was to appeal the suspension and finish the season with my teammates. However, after numerous discussions with people close to me — including Coach (Dirk) Koetter — I am starting the suspension immediately so I can enter a treatment facility and receive the help I truly need.”
On the field, I must be strong and determined to push through both pain and injuries to become an elite NFL running back. Off the field, I have tried that same approach in my personal life. My shortcomings in this area have taught me both that I cannot win these personal battles alone and that there is no shame in asking for help.
I sincerely apologize to the Glazer family, General Manager Jason Licht and the entire Tampa Bay organization, my teammates and our tremendous fans. This was not the season I envisioned and I have let everyone down, including myself. However, adversity yields opportunity and I ask for your support in my battle to overcome these personal issues.”
Healthy Scratch vs. Saints
Martin surprisingly did not play in Tampa’s loss to the New Orleans Saints over the weekend. When asked about Martin’s healthy benching, Koetter said that he was “trying to put the Bucs in the best position to win games.”
Martin’s Down Season
This caps what has been a disappointing individual campaign for Martin. After finishing second in the league by rushing for over 1,400 yards last season, the rusher formerly known as “Muscle Hamster” accrued just 421 yards on 144 attempts this season. He scored three rushing touchdowns.
Martin injured his hamstring in Week 2 and missed six games after that. Martin’s season-long average of only 2.9 yards per attempt is the lowest in the league of any running back that took at least 70 carries.
With Martin away from the team for the season finale, Tampa Bay will likely use Jacquizz Rodgers as the No. 1 back with Payton Barber serving as his backup. Rodgers carried the ball 15 times for 70 yards and a score last week against New Orleans. Charles Sims had been the backup, but the Bucs placed him on injured reserve.
The Buccaneers still have a sliver of playoff hopes, though they will need an awful lot to break their way if they want to nab the final NFC Wild Card spot.
In order to make the postseason, the Bucs would have to beat the Carolina Panthers this weekend. They would also need the Packers to lose to the Lions, the Redskins to tie against the Giants, the Texans to lose to the Titans, the Colts to lose to the Jaguars, the Eagles to lose to the Cowboys and a Seahawks loss to the 49ers. If all of this somehow happened, Tampa would qualify for the playoffs on the heels of some crazy tiebreakers.
Martin will sit for this game as well as the first three games next season. He signed a new five-year deal worth about $36 million with $15 million in guarantees last offseason.
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