The suspension of Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson for violating the NFL’s drug policy was announced by the league on Wednesday.
The NFL announced that Johnson would be suspended for the first four games of the 2014 regular season. He will return to the Eagles’ roster on Monday, September 29 following the team’s game a day earlier against the San Francisco 49ers. The Eagles said via a statement issued on Wednesday,
We’re very disappointed to learn of his suspension. We have spoken to Lane about the details of the suspension. He understood what he did wrong and took full responsibility. The key for him, however, is to learn from that mistake and move forward with his preparation for the 2014 season.”
The move was widely speculated by reporters almost a month ago but received no official comment from the league or the team until now.
The issue occurred when Johnson took an undisclosed prescription medication without clearing the drug with Eagles trainers. The second-year offensive lineman expressed remorse and regret about his actions, which will have a heavy impact on the team:
In April while training, I mistakenly and foolishly put a prescribed medication in my body to help with a medical issue. I mistakenly failed to clear it with Eagles trainers and check the NFL list of banned substances. I am extremely sorry for this mistake and I will learn from it and be smarter in the future.
I would like to sincerely apologize to Mr. Lurie, Howie Roseman, Coach Kelly and his staff, my teammates and our amazing Philadelphia Eagles fans. This will be very hard on me to not be battling with my teammates for four games – but I will be ready and better than ever when I return.”
The suspension of the Eagles’ 2013 first-round draft pick is a deep disappointment to the team, heading into its second season under head coach Chip Kelly and looking to build on last year’s success. Johnson’s progression from a rookie to a more seasoned player is one of the more anticipated storylines of the 2014 season. The suspension, which will mean that Johnson will miss games against the Jaguars, Colts, 49ers, and first divisional matchup against the Redskins, will mean make the scrutiny and expectations for his growth that much more intense.