FOXBORO – New England Patriots tight end Ben Watson was suspended four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy, a punishment he knew was coming when he came out of retirement this offseason.
In a statement posted on social media Sunday, Watson said his doctors prescribed him Bio Identical Testosterone Cypionate — a substance he knew to be banned in the NFL — in March after he’d made what he thought was a permanent decision to retire. Nine days after first taking it, Watson was tested by the league. That was about a month before he would change his mind and decide to keep playing.
“I complied (with the test) out of habit, never thinking in that moment I’d want to come back,” he said in the statement. “…Considering myself previously retired, I had forgotten all about my test in March until I got a letter on May 3 saying my results were positive. I was devastated and for obvious reasons didn’t want to proceed.”
Watson said he told interested teams about the test, and the Patriots agreed to sign him earlier this month despite the pending suspension.
“This is not how I would want to enter a new locker room and attempt to earn my role on a new team,” the statement added. “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.”
Watson, 38, hasn’t missed a game since 2013. He will sit out contests against Pittsburgh, at Miami, against the New York Jets and at Buffalo before being eligible to play in Week 5 at Washington on Oct. 6.
When he does play, it will be his first appearance for the Patriots since 2009, after playing six seasons with the team that drafted him 32nd overall in 2004. Watson also spent three years in Cleveland and four of the last five in New Orleans.
Last season, he caught 35 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games (four starts) with the Saints.
Watson has 530 receptions for 5,885 yards and 44 touchdowns in 195 career games (135 starts).
–Field Level Media