The NFL announced that long-time Chargers TE Antonio Gates has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Gates released a statement regarding his suspension:
“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 I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL. In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn’t reflect them. 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 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’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, 35, is entering the final year of his six-year, $39.8 million contract that included $20.4 million guaranteed. He was set to make a base salary of $5.9 million for the 2015 season.
Last year, Gates appeared in all 16 games for the Chargers and caught 69 passes for 821 yards receivingh and 12 touchdowns. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 46 tight end out of 67 qualifying players.