PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Lane Johnson wore a somewhat pained expression on his face as he addressed the media on Friday at the NovaCare Complex. In front of Johnson, teammates were filing into the building, preparing for training camp.
Johnson will be reduced to watching them next month practice and play, since he won’t be able to rejoin the Eagles until Monday, September 29, when his four-game suspension is over for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, which the league announced Wednesday.
Johnson said he took a prescription drug in April—after the season. He said he knew the suspension was coming. He said the substance was prescription medication that he got through a family physician, and he admitted he made a mistake by not going through the Eagles’ trainers to see what was on the NFL’s list of banned substances.
Johnson said he spoke to Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly about the situation Friday morning before the team was scheduled to arrive at the NovaCare Complex.
“This sucks, the toughest part about it is that I let the team down, let the fans down and that I’m not going to be around here to battle,” said Johnson, the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft who had a good rookie season at right tackle for the Eagles. “I was expecting to come out here and get a pretty good start. I can’t do it now. It’s all my fault. I can’t blame anybody but myself. It’s all on me.”
Asked if it was an area the Eagles lacked oversight in what players take, Johnson quickly shot that down, saying “It’s not that. We have a list of like 100, or 200 banned substances that you can’t take and they’re all over the building. It’s just something I think athletes get carried away with sometimes a little bit. Some [supplements] aren’t FDA regulated, so it’s real easy to do, maybe take something that you’re not aware of. That’s not an excuse. They tell us all of the time to talk to our trainers and it’s something that I didn’t do.”
Johnson stressed that he wouldn’t address what medical issue ailed him. He did say, however, that Kelly advised him that the Eagles have all the resources at the NovaCare Complex to help him. Johnson, obviously, wasn’t thinking that far ahead.
“I’ll know in the future to do something about it,” said Johnson, who had heard from the NFL in mid-May that he had failed a drug test. “Right away I called [general manager] Howie [Roseman] to see if they needed to make any moves. I appealed and it’s why it took so long [for the NFL to make it official on July 23]. As a professional, you’re supposed to be aware of what you put into your body and take precautions. It’s something that I didn’t do and I’m paying the price.”
What he’s going to do in the meantime is anyone’s guess.
“I’m going to try and stay in football shape,” Johnson said. “At least try and do some one-on-ones with somebody, or something like that. That’s going to be the toughest part—not being around here playing, because it’s hard to come to play when you’re not able to practice.”
Johnson said he would know more about his situation when training camp practices begin on Saturday.
After the pre-season, Thursday, August 29, he’s not allowed into the building. He’s hoping to engage in meetings through Skype, but it’s something he needs to check and see if he’s allowed to do through the NFL.
Johnson hinted that it wasn’t a performance-enhancing substance that he took. “It’s my mistake, I brought it all unto myself and it’s something that I have deal with,” Johnson said. “I let my teammates down, I let Chip down, and Howie and everybody in the Eagles’ organization. That’s the toughest part to deal with. I felt I had a good mini-camp and OTAs, and I thought I could progress from where I left off last year, because I felt last year, I started to get very confident. The biggest test is coming Week Five to see how I will do.”
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