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New England Patriots fans deal with Rodney Harrison's suspension

Harrison Deserves Suspension
Fans Should Not Rationalize Player's Poor Decision

However legitimate New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison's reasons for taking Human Growth Hormone appear to be, he broke the rules and he deserves to be punished.

Harrison admitted to federal investigators that he "obtained" HGH and Friday met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to explain. The result is a four-game suspension that Harrison appears prepared to accept. That suspension will cost Harrison nearly a half-million dollars.

In a conference call with media earlier this evening, Harrison admitted taking HGH in an effort to "accelerate the healing process of injuries [he] sustained while playing football."

Harrison tore all three major knee ligaments in his left knee in a 2005 game against Pittsburgh and had last season cut short with a ligament injury (most reports called it a strained medial collateral ligament, one said a slightly torn anterior cruciate ligament) of his right knee. Harrison also broke his right scapula (shoulder blade) in Super Bowl XXXVIII against Carolina.

But Harrison now admits those injuries, while terrible for him and his team, are no excuse for breaking the rules -- and possibly the law.

As fans, we want to accept Harrison's initial rationalization. He didn't take HGH to enhance his performance the way San Diego's Shawne Merriman took steroids. No, he was trying to recover from devastating injuries, extend his career, help his team, avoid "letting them down."

But we can't. It's faulty logic. And it's a black spot on the Patriots reputation, possibly the most significant bruise in many years.

Harrison will have to do his time, and we're going to have to accept it. The real shame of it is other teams' fans will make far more of it than there is. It's something we'll have to deal with. Many questions remain. How did Harrison obtain the HGH? When did he take it? For how long? Who else is/was involved? How many more players, physicians and team trainers will be implicated?

They are questions for another day. The most pressing immediate question is: What do the Patriots do now?