The legal problems for Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver have become much more complicated.
It was two weeks ago today that Oliver, Buffalo’s first-round pick in the 2019 draft, was arrested in Houston on charges of DWI and illegally possessing a gun.
It wasn’t exactly the display of “Bills culture” coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane have been preaching.
Both have to be fuming and with good reason.
The 22-year-old former University of Houston star was arrested after a 911 call from another motorist that Oliver’s truck, pulling a trailer carrying an ATV, was driving dangerously through a 45 mph construction zone and not staying in its lane.
He failed a field sobriety test and a police report indicated that he had an open beer between his legs and that a search of the vehicle revealed a small-caliber pistol.
HOWEVER, a Houston TV station subsequently offered a more complete version of the arrest beyond the fact the beer was actually in the driver’s side door.
The broadcast outlet indicated Oliver was driving 80 mph in a “no passing” zone and, after the stop, he told police he was taking Adderall.
The police report, according to the television version, did not make clear whether Oliver was under the influence of Adderall when he was arrested. However, police, in their preliminary report, indicated he was impaired by “possibly something other than alcohol.”
A high-profile athlete being arrested for DWI is hardly unusual and, sadly, gun possession isn’t all that uncommon among them.
For Oliver, both charges are Class B-variety misdemeanors as, in Texas, possession of a weapon is illegal when committing a crime, in his case the DWI.
However, the Adderall admission, even if it mitigates the drunk-driving charge, looms as much more costly and punitive, not so much legally, as professionally.
Adderall is a stimulant used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s banned by the National Football League and is considered to be a performance enhancer by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Its effect is similar to an amphetamine, a so-called “upper.”
NFL players can use Adderall for specified medical conditions, but only if they apply for and are granted a therapeutic use exemption. It’s not known if Oliver petitioned the league to use it.
If he hasn’t, though it’s his first offense, the league could issue a suspension, without pay, for two games, even if the DWI and gun charges are reduced or thrown out. But if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell chooses to also consider those violations, the suspension could be longer.
If suspended, Oliver could participate in training camp and the exhibition games, but would sit out the first two regular-season contests or however long the suspension extends.
Losing Oliver for a few games isn’t as punitive for the Bills as it might seem. His rookie production was decidedly pedestrian and, even without him, there’s plenty of competition at his position. Four other experienced defensive tackles are also on Buffalo’s roster: Star Lotulelei, Harrison Phillips, Vernon Butler and Quinton Jefferson, who can also play end.
The real problem is that Oliver’s embarrassing arrest is a terrible optic for a team that contends it values character.
He’s free on $1,350 bail with his arraignment scheduled for Aug. 11 in Montgomery County Court in Texas. Oliver is currently participating in Buffalo’s virtual workouts but with a very iffy future.
(Chuck Pollock, a Times Herald senior sports columnist, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)