New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison has been suspended by the NFL for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. News of Harrison's pending suspension broke Friday afternoon, and the veteran defender held a conference call to address the issue.
"I'm basically here to let you all know that tomorrow the commissioner will announce that I've been suspended by the NFL for violating the league policy on banned substances," Harrison told the media during a conference call. "That suspension will be four games."
The suspension is a setback for both Harrison and the team. Harrison has been recovering from a traumatic knee injury suffered last season. It was the second such injury in two years, limiting the veteran leader to just 13 games over that time.
The NFL confirmed Saturday that Harrison has been suspended for the Patriots first four games and will not be allowed to return until October 2nd.
The NFL statement is listed below:
Rodney Harrison of the New England Patriots has been suspended without pay for the team's first four regular-season games of 2007 for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.
Harrison's suspension begins immediately. He is eligible to return to the Patriots' active roster on Tuesday, October 2 following the team's October 1 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Harrison said the substance was not steroids, but was a banned substance. "I want to make it clear that not once did I ever use steroids," he said. "My purpose was never to gain a competitive edge. Rather, my use was solely for the purpose of accelerating the healing process of injuries I sustained while playing football."
|Rodney Harrison jogs from one drill to another during New England Patriots training camp in Foxboro, Ma. August 12, 2007. (Photo Kevin Saleeba / Patriotsinsiders.com)|
According to an ESPN report, Harrison admitted obtaining Human Growth Hormone (HGH) to federal investigators. The report indicated that an NFL official was allowed to listen to Harrison's conversation with Federal agents, and that the 34-year old defender disclosed obtaining the banned substance at that time. The admission led to a Friday hearing with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Harrison took the opportunity to thank his family, friends and fans for their support through trying times. He apologized to his teammates, the New England Patriots organization, his family and all those who have given him support during this "tough time" as Harrison put it.
Harrison's suspension comes during a tough part of the the Patriots' regular season schedule. The start of their season includes games against division rival New York Jets,a former playoff opponent in the San Diego Chargers, the Buffalo Bills and perennial playoff contender Cincinnati Bengals.
New England also faces roster cuts by the close of business today. With fellow starting safety Eugene Wilson nursing an apparent leg injury, Harrison's suspension will force the Patriots to consider keeping an extra safety on the roster to address the depleted unit.
The Patriots have not issued a statement at the time this article went to press.
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