Fireworks haven’t been going off at NFL headquarters just before July 4, but announcements of suspensions keep on coming Thursday.
Chargers tight end Antonio Gates is the latest to fall under discipline from the league office. The NFL announced that Gates has been suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
“In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails. I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and never taken any substance that was illegal or banned by the NFL,” Gates said in a statement. “In an effort to recover from a long season and although I was unaware at the time, I regret to confirm that I tested positive for a substance that is currently on the NFL banned substance list. As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues, and I take full responsibility for my actions. I’d like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me.”
Gates will miss games against the Lions, Bengals, Vikings and Browns before becoming eligible to return in Week Five against the Steelers. He’ll be able to take part in training camp practices and preseason games before the suspension goes into effect.
Gates had 69 catches for 821 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Chargers last season and that production at 34 may raise some eyebrows in light of Thursday’s suspension. Lardarius Green will be the likely replacement for Gates in San Diego’s first four games.
Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson, Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain and Packers defensive end Datone Jones have also had suspensions announced by the league on Thursday.