HOUSTON (SPORTSRADIO 610) — Brian Cushing was suspended 10 games this season for his second violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy, but the substance he was taking wasn’t intended to enhance his performance, he said.
It was a prescription help his mental health.
“I don’t want to get too much in the particulars, but there was a good amount of things bothering me this offseason, mostly mentally,” Cushing said. “I was given a prescription medication i should’ve been more careful with and I should’ve communicated with the league a lot better about. I take full responsibility for it.”
Cushing said the prescription wasn’t Adderall, a banned substance under the NFL policy, but one the league regularly grants exemptions for. The drug is often used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among other issues.
“It’s something now I’m working through the league about taking again, through their terms, and through their doctors to ok it,. Cushing said. “The encouraging thing is there are other guys in the league who are allowed to take this, so that’s the process that we’re in right now, to hopefully get that done.”
Cushing said he hopes fans treat this differently than a suspension for using steroids, and hinted about concerns about life after football given what he now knows about concussions and CTE.
“I hope so,” Cushing said. “I hope they understand that I had an issue that I was trying to better myself with. As I’ve gotten older, there’s been a lot of things that I’ve been worrisome about, especially with a lot of the other players that have played and retired and kind of the situations and conditions they’re in, so it’s one of those things that I tried to better myself with, but should’ve been more careful and take more responsibility for.”
Cushing, 30, was first banned for violating the PED policy back in 2010, after his NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year-caliber season.
First, that he was battling a life-threatening tumor.
Later, that he was suffering from “overtrained athlete syndrome.”
Now, Cushing said, he’s just happy to be back.
“Feels good,” Cushing said. “Feels fitting. Obviously something I enjoy doing, so it just feels right. It’s been a great feeling to be back this past week.”
Does he feel like he let the team down?
“Very regretful,” Cushing said. “I felt terrible about it, the entire situation. Anytime I’m absent from here I feel like I’ve let a lot of guys down, let a lot of fans down.”
Cushing knows that some fans won’t believe him.
“I understand that,” he said. “I understand that’s what comes with it, but I’ll obviously try to build that back up, do it the right way. But at the same time, I’ve got a great relationship with my coaches, great relationship with my teammates and they understand.”
Cushing is scheduled to make $7.25 million in salary next season, and count $9.70 million against the cap. If the Texans were to release him, they could free $8.50 million in cap space.
Does he worry about how this might impact his future with the team?
“I can’t worry about that,” Cushing said. “That’s a decision that’s out of my hands. I can only play the best football I possibly can and leave that decision up to them. What’s done is done, you can’t worry too much about the past. I just have to continue to move forward and play the best football I can for this team.”