Editor’s note: any typos within may be attributed to Memorial Day Weekend activities and/or that part of everyone that sees news like this and their first reaction is OH COME ON, MAN.
Author’s note: if you’d like to continue enjoying your Memorial Day weekend, maybe just save this one until Tuesday morning when you’re slogging through emails or thinking about skipping class.
Patriots tight end and all-around good guy Ben Watson just dropped the news that he will spend the first four games of the 2019 NFL season...not on the field, because he’ll be suspended for testing positive for a banned substance.
Rather than wait for the NFL to drop the news and make excuses later, Watson explained what went down on his Facebook page on Sunday, and it goes something like this:
(We’ll just quote the whole thing, because if he thought it was important enough, cherry-picking quotes seems like a disservice)
As the days and weeks of the 2018 football season passed, I was certain that it would be my last. Injuries and health concerns, including a random bout with appendicitis the last week of the season confirmed my decision, and as I walked off the field for my last time, I had no plans to return. Over the following months, I started actively pursing other career opportunities. After every season during my playing career, I visit with a few doctors for health screenings. During these times we identify the cumulative effects of injuries, stressors, and exertion on my health and formulate an offseason plan for recovery. As a professional athlete for the last 15 years I know very well the limitations on what can be prescribed for my overall health. After my contract expired last March I told my doctors I was finished playing, went through a series of medical tests and was prescribed Bio Identical Testosterone Cypionate to assist in healing my body and mind.
On March 29, nine days after I started therapy, I was randomly tested under our substance policies. I complied out of habit, never thinking in that moment I’d want to come back. In late April, some clubs expressed interest in me playing and after much deliberation and prayer, I decided I wanted to return. Considering myself previously retired, I had forgotten all about my test in March until I got a letter on May 3rd saying my results were positive. I was devastated and for obvious reasons did not want to proceed. At that point I knew that my decision to return to play would include a four game suspension and I immediately discussed this new development with the clubs.
Ultimately I decided to pursue another year and on May 9 the Patriots offered me a contract in spite of these circumstances. I am excited and thankful to return to New England but very disappointed that I will not be able to play and contribute immediately. This is not how I would want to enter a new locker room and attempt to earn my role on a new team. However, I respect the regulations that have been collectively bargained to promote fairness on the field of play and accept the discipline associated with my infraction. My goals as an athlete, teammate, friend, father, husband and believer have not changed. To live a life of integrity and humility while standing for kindness, justice and righteousness and to serve the people in the cities, regions and organizations that God places me in. Until my last day I will continue to pursue excellence in my craft and perform to the best of my ability. I am grateful for yet another opportunity to do so in the NFL.
The “in spite of the circumstances” part in particular jumps out; Belichick & co knew that Watson was staring down a suspension and decided it was
A) worth signing Ben anyway, and
B) given that they signed Ben well after the draft was over, they’re OK going into the season with the tight end depth chart as it was before he signed.
Also, according to NESN, Watson says he won’t appeal the suspension.
We’ll update this post with more deets if/when they’re available.