On Sunday, Patriots TE Benjamin Watson announced via his Facebook account that he will be suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season after failing a drug test for Bio Identical Testosterone Cypionate.
Watson explains that he was taking the substance under a doctor’s care when he thought he was retiring from football.
Here’s Watson’s full statement:
“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.”
Last year, Watson said he was planning to retire. However, reports had said that Watson was open to returning for the situation and with Rob Gronkowski calling it a career, the Patriots made a lot of sense for him.
Watson, 38, is a former first-round pick of the Patriots back in 2004. He spent six years in New England before joining the Browns in 2010.
Watson signed on with the Saints for the 2013 season and spent three years in New Orleans before joining the Ravens on a two-year, $7 million contract in 2016.
The Saints brought Watson back last year on a one-year contract. He signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Patriots during the offseason.
In 2018, Watson appeared in 16 games for the Saints and caught 35 passes for 400 yards receiving and two touchdowns.