TAMPA, Fla. — The words in Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber’s playbook are sometimes jumbled, and they don’t make sense, so he has to read them over and over. He has to draw the plays up, too, and then he has to walk through them to fully understand.
“Some people can get things with classroom only, but he’s certainly gotta be in it, see it and let it happen,” said Bucs running backs coach Tim Spencer, who has worked with Barber the past two seasons.
Barber has dyslexia, a learning disorder that affects 10 to 15 percent of the U.S. population. It results in difficulty with word recognition, spelling, reading comprehension, language and visual processing.
“I do read a lot slower, and there will be times when I’m reading something and I’ll read it backwards or the words will come off the page,” said Barber, 23. “[But] I don’t really see it as a challenge, to be honest.”
Barber also has attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition characterized by difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Neither has held him back on the football field, even when he must learn hundreds of plays and identify where the pressure is coming from in a matter of seconds. In fact, despite starting only four games last season, Barber finished with a team-high 423 rushing yards, 114 receiving yards and three touchdowns, becoming a candidate for the starting role in 2018.
“I think he will be right there,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said at the end of the season. “I think that will definitely be a consideration. Peyton did a good job with his opportunities this year.”
‘I learned a lot slower’
Growing up in Alpharetta, Georgia, Barber was diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten and took mostly remedial courses until his junior year of high school.
“I learned a lot slower. I struggled a little bit in high school. [My grades] weren’t terrible, but I mean, I’d say I was kind of all over the place: C’s, B’s, occasionally an A in college,” said Barber, whose father also has dyslexia and ADHD.
He wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until his freshman year at Auburn. There, Barber had tutors, received extra time on tests and took his exams in a different room with a proctor, all of which are allowed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA).
Barber tried the medication Vyvanse for about a week and a half, but he didn’t like the way it made him feel, so he stopped taking it.
He also got help from then-offensive analyst Bobby Bentley, now the running backs coach at South Carolina. Bentley understood that the traditional classroom setting and long meetings didn’t always cater to people like Barber, a kinesthetic learner, who needs movement to learn.
“A good athlete has to be someone who does well under pressure, who actually has clarity under pressure and can respond and react almost impulsively. … On the field, being impulsive is good because it means you’re acting quick and fast.”
Dr. Roberto Olivardia
“I was the same way. I have ADHD,” Bentley said. “Nobody really knows this, but we would meet in the indoor facility and walk through plays from hash to hash. … He became very knowledgeable about what to do based on our step-throughs and our walk-throughs. … What was great about Peyton is that he absorbed it all. He was a sponge. I was able to pour myself into him because he wanted it.”
After Roc Thomas and Jovon Robinson left the 2015 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic against Louisville with injuries, Barber stepped in to rush for 116 yards, becoming the starter.
“It’s been like that pretty much wherever I’ve gone. Like, I’ve always been that guy that was sort of overlooked in a way,” said Barber, who credits Bentley with teaching him patience. “Just remembering your process and everything — what you’ve been through in the past, knowing that the cream always rises to the top.”
Barber rushed for 1,017 yards and 13 touchdowns that year. He also excelled in the classroom, earning SEC Academic Honor Roll for three years.
He entered the NFL, a decision he made so he could assist his mother, Lori, who lives off disability and at the time was staying in a cramped apartment with her daughter and grandchildren. He bought her a townhome this past year, and his dream is to buy her a house.
Thriving on urgency
Barber has developed some of his own coping mechanisms. He chews gum when studying because he feels the chewing motion helps him lock in. He keeps multiple packs in his locker.
He also fidgets with his goatee, which can stimulate the frontal lobe of the brain to improve concentration, and he takes breaks to give his mind a rest.
When Spencer gives quizzes, he gives Barber additional time, if needed. Barber always sits in the front of the room and is called on frequently.
“I just really direct everything to him, and he’s OK with that because he wants to learn. And there’s nobody in there making him feel like he doesn’t know or making him feel like he’s any less than anybody else,” said Spencer, who is an advocate of multisensory ways of teaching.
“The coaching staff really helps me. They’ll always ask me, ‘Do you completely understand?’ If I don’t, I’ll tell them straight up, ‘I don’t,'” Barber said.
Said Spencer: “He can definitely run the football, and he’s a lot better than when he first got here with protections and being able to see the field and not just looking at the line of scrimmage. He needs to be able to see down the field and analyze things before they actually happen so he can play a lot faster. That’s what I’m trying to get him to see.
“Also, because he has ADHD and dyslexia, it’s imperative for him to focus when he comes out on the practice field. He can’t be messing around with the guys and joking and all that other stuff. He has to focus so he can be on point.”
Dr. Roberto Olivardia, a clinical psychologist and lecturer at Harvard Medical School who specializes in the treatment of ADHD and learning disabilities, believes Barber’s makeup can actually be advantageous in sports. Dr. Olivardia mentioned other athletes who have ADHD, dyslexia or both, including Greg Louganis, Michael Phelps and Magic Johnson, as did the late Muhammad Ali.
“There’s something in the ADHD brain that thrives on urgency,” Olivardia said. “A good athlete has to be someone who does well under pressure, who actually has clarity under pressure and can respond and react almost impulsively. … On the field, being impulsive is good because it means you’re acting quick and fast.”
Barber has never met anyone in the NFL with dyslexia, but some of the sport’s biggest personalities — Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow, Mark Schlereth and Frank Gore — have been diagnosed with it.
“When you’ve had to work at succeeding in a way that might have come easy for other people, by virtue of having ADHD or dyslexia, there is a certain perseverance and a certain toughness that comes along with that,” Olivardia said. “There’s a certain sense of power in, ‘Maybe I did it in an unconventional way, but I was able to figure it out and do it.'”
Olivardia said that some of the most highly successful entrepreneurs have dyslexia because they think outside the box and are avid problem solvers. That’s exactly what Barber wants to do. The past two offseasons, he has returned to Auburn to work toward finishing his degree in interdisciplinary studies.
“I kind of want to do a little bit of everything,” said Barber, who believes that the patience he learned through coping with dyslexia and ADHD has helped him excel in all areas of his life.
“I don’t see it as a disability — I see it as an ability. I see it as something special and unique in many ways. Yeah, I may learn differently, but at the same time, I’m thriving.”
O.J. Simpson settles defamation case against owner of The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS — O.J. Simpson and a Las Vegas hotel-casino have settled a lawsuit alleging that unnamed employees defamed him by telling a celebrity news site he had been banned from the property in November 2017 for being drunk and disruptive.
Simpson’s attorney, Malcolm LaVergne, declined Thursday to comment about the agreement reached with Nevada Property 1 LLC, corporate owner of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
“The matter has been resolved,” LaVergne said.
A spokeswoman for the Cosmopolitan declined immediate comment.
Attorneys for the corporation had argued the former football star could not be defamed because his reputation was already tarnished by his criminal and civil trials in the deaths of his ex-wife and her friend in Los Angeles decades ago and his conviction and imprisonment in Nevada in a 2007 armed robbery case.
LaVergne had raised the specter of racial bias by hotel officials.
Terms were not made public in the court dismissal filed March 31 in Clark County District Court. It said both sides agreed to bear their own legal costs and fees.
Simpson, now 73, is on parole in Nevada and living in a gated golf course community following his release from prison in July 2017. He had served nine years for armed robbery, kidnapping and assault with a weapon.
The complaint against the Cosmopolitan acknowledged that Simpson was given notice, after spending several hours with two friends at a steakhouse and a lounge, that he was prohibited from returning to the property. He said he was never given a reason. Simpson denied in his lawsuit that he was “belligerent,” broke glass or damaged property.
LaVergne said at the time his client’s reputation was damaged by accounts cited in a TMZ report that Simpson “was drunk and became disruptive” at a resort bar. TMZ was not a defendant in the lawsuit.
Simpson went to prison after being convicted in Las Vegas in October 2008 of leading five men, including two with guns, in an ill-fated confrontation with two collectibles dealers and a go-between in a cramped room at an off-Strip casino-hotel.
Simpson always maintained he was trying to retrieve personal mementoes stolen from him following his 1995 acquittal in the killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman in Los Angeles. He said family photos and other items disappeared before he was found liable in civil court in February 1997 and ordered to pay $33.5 million to the Brown and Goldman estates.
Deshaun Watson’s lawyer files motion for emergency hearing to get woman’s ID
HOUSTON — Deshaun Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, has filed a motion for an emergency hearing, asking a judge to rule that lawyer Tony Buzbee has to identify one of the women who filed a lawsuit under the pseudonym of Jane Doe.
Of the 22 civil lawsuits filed against Watson alleging inappropriate behavior and sexual assault, only two women have been publicly identified. The motion filed Thursday pertains to lawsuit 2021-15937, which was filed March 18. Because these lawsuits were filed individually, Hardin would need to file a motion for each of the lawsuits filed.
“When we asked Mr. Buzbee to identify his clients weeks ago, he refused and told us to file a motion,” Hardin said in a statement. “Today we filed that motion. As discussed in our filing, Mr. Buzbee’s use of anonymous lawsuits violates Texas law and the basic concept of fairness.
“While I understand that anonymity often is used as a shield for victims, Mr. Buzbee is using it as a sword. While shielding his clients from public scrutiny, Mr. Buzbee continues to use their anonymous allegations to destroy Mr. Watson. This is simply not right. And we look forward to resolving these matters in court.”
In the motion, Hardin writes that “because Plaintiff’s counsel filed the actions anonymously, Mr. Watson’s counsel can only speculate about Plaintiff’s identity.”
“Mr. Watson’s counsel cannot in good conscience publicly respond to the specific allegations being made because any response would be based on dangerous speculation about the identity of the accusers,” Hardin said in the motion. “It is easy to imagine the harm that would be caused if Ms. Doe was mistakenly identified.
“The only way to allow Mr. Watson to properly defend himself is for the Court to follow the law by requiring Ms. Doe to identify herself in her civil lawsuit.”
The motion for the emergency hearing is because Watson’s answer to the lawsuit is due on April 19, and “due to plaintiff’s counsel’s repeated refusals to identify for Mr. Watson’s counsel the real name of Ms. Doe, Mr. Watson’s counsel cannot fully evaluate or plead his defenses to her claims.”
In a statement Tuesday, NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy called the allegations against Watson “deeply disturbing,” noting, “we take these issues very seriously.”
McCarthy said that the league launched an investigation under its personal conduct policy last month after the first allegations and that the NFL is “continuing to closely monitor all developments in the matter.”
Report — Former NFL player Phillip Adams kills 5 in South Carolina, then himself
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The gunman who killed five people including a prominent doctor in South Carolina was former NFL pro Phillip Adams, who killed himself early Thursday, according to a source who was briefed on the investigation.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said Adams’ parents live near the doctor’s home in Rock Hill, and that he had been treated by the doctor. The source said Phillips killed himself after midnight with a .45 caliber weapon.
The York County Sheriff’s Office said they had searched for hours before finding the suspect in a nearby home.
The York County coroner’s office said Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69, were pronounced dead at the scene along with grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5.
A man who had been working at the home, James Lewis, 38, from Gaston, was found shot to death outside, and a sixth person was hospitalized with “serious gunshot wounds,” York County Sheriff’s Office’s spokesperson Trent Faris said.
Faris said deputies were called around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday to the Lesslies’ home in the Rock Hill area, and spent hours searching for the suspect before finding him in a nearby home.
“We have found the person we believe is responsible and we are with him at this time and that’s all I can say about the suspect,” Faris said.
The investigation is ongoing, he said.
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