Ben Watson to start the 2019 NFL Season with a four-game suspension

Rows of american football balls in NFL Experience in Times Square, New York


Ben Watson, the Patriots depth chart at tight end announced last Sunday that he will not be playing in the first four games of the 2019 season. Instead, he will be serving his four-game suspension because he tested positive for testosterone, a substance banned in the NFL.

NFL official has yet to make an announcement, but Watson has admitted to testing positive and explained the situation in a lengthy Facebook post. He said that he took the substance because he already decided to retire after the 2018 NFL season. Since he will not be playing football anymore, he started taking a prescription for testosterone.

Following a series of medical tests that Watson undergoes after every season, he was prescribed Bio Identical Testosterone Cypionate that will help heal his mind and body.

The health screenings were done to “identify the cumulative effects of injuries, stressors, and exertion on my [Watson’s] health and formulate an offseason plan for recovery.”

He informed his doctors that he was finished playing after his contract expired in March.

Even he was retired, he is still subject to the NFL’s random PED testing. One was given in March.

Watson wrote on his Facebook, “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.”

Retired athletes are not required to take the test but must comply if they’re contemplating to return to the field.

In late April, some clubs expressed interest in a possible return for Watson which he accommodated.

On May 3, he received a letter that said he tested positive for testosterone.

“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,” Watson wrote.

The Patriots offered him a contract despite of what happened, and Watson signed up for another year with New England.

He expressed his disappointment over his four-game suspension, which will keep him from playing and contributing to the team immediately. He’ll miss the games against Bills, Dolphins, Jets, and Steelers.

He respects the regulations, however, as the body responsible for promoting fairness on the field and will accept the sanction placed on him.

At the start of the season, fans won’t be so disappointed as they’re aware of the suspension, but the team’s offense will suffer a small blow. The Patriots has been trying offseason to replace Rob Gronkowski, who retired on March, and Watson would have been at the top of the official depth chart.

Other players that the Patriots have signed are Austin Serferian-Jenkins, Andrew Beck, and Matt LaCosse. This brings the number of tight ends to four, including Watson.

Bill Belichick brought Watson in this 2019 because of his prior experience with the Patriots. He was selected during the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft and played with New England for six seasons.

During the 2018 season, Watson made two touchdowns and caught 35 passes for 400 yards while playing for Saints. In 2015, he made six touchdowns and caught 74 passes for 825 yards while playing for the same team. So it’s not a surprise that the Patriots are feeling the blow of his four-game suspension.

Failed drug testing in athletics

Ben Watson is not the first and definitely not the last athlete to test positive for recreational and performance-enhancing drugs. Some claim unintentional positive urine drug test but they still end up disciplined for their infraction.

What about athletes who use Cannabidiol or CBD products?

Some of the top sports organizations have mixed reaction towards the use of such product.

  • NCAA excludes Cannabidiol from the NCAA 2018-19 Banned Drugs List.
  • NFL is willing to look into its benefits and to acknowledge CBD as a compound separate from THC. According to NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell, on the matter of medicinal cannabis, he will listen with what the medical advisors has to say.
  • NBA maintains their stand against players using marijuana for recreational purposes but is open to better understanding medical marijuana.  
  • NHL players are tested for cannabinoids but without discipline. Instead, the data is used to determine future testing practices.
  • MLB is more focused on performance-enhancing drugs and not cannabis. The league is lenient towards marijuana use but test players for reasonable cause of use.

Cannabidiol or other drugs can be an athlete’s downfall. Best to understand the rules before even getting a taste, right?

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