Thursday was a busy day for the NFL offices in New York City, as several suspensions were handed down for various substance abuse or performance enhancing drug violations. The first announced suspension was to New York Jets Pro Bowl defensive end Sheldon Richardson. Shortly thereafter, multiple other suspensions were released.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain was given a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, while San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates was given a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance enhancing drugs policy. Green Bay Packers defensive end Datone Jones was suspended for the first game of the year for a violation of the substance abuse policy.
McClain, who will miss the Cowboys' contests against the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, and New Orleans Saints, will return for the club's Week 5 contest against the New England Patriots. In a statement released through the team, McClain said, ""I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake. I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error. I look forward to returning to the field on week 5, when I hope to help my team beat the Patriots."
Gates will also return in Week 5, when the Chargers play on Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He will have missed games against the Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings, and Cleveland Browns. Gates explained in his own team released statement that he took a supplement during this offseason that had a banned substance. ""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," Gates' statement read. "I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL. I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues. I take full responsibility for my actions."I take full responsibility for my actions," Gates's statement read. "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."
The Miami Dolphins face both the Chargers and the Cowboys this season, taking on the Cowboys in Week 11 and visiting the Chargers in Week 15. McClain and Gates should be back to full speed with their respective teams by then.
A slow start to the season for San Diego, however, could be a benefit for Miami in the AFC Playoff picture.