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NFL AM: It’s a beautiful day for suspensions

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Gates suspended four games for PEDs

Antonio Gates has been the picture of reliability in his 12-year career in San Diego. He has never played fewer than 10 games a year at one of the NFL’s most rugged positions, tight end — combine the potential concussive effects of blocking and the thrill of being drilled over the middle by linebackers.

Along with Philip Rivers, he is the face of the Chargers franchise. But we won’t be seeing him for the first month of the 2015 season.

Gates was suspended four games by the NFL on Thursday for use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Gates went with the “I didn’t know it, I swear!” defense, though he also went on to say ignorance of what he was taking was not a valid excuse. He released the following statement:

“In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails.  I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL,” Gates wrote.  “In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn’t reflect them.

“As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues. I take full responsibility for my actions.  I’d like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me.”

Of course, Gates’ suspension and lack of uproar highlights the difference between football and baseball — there remains no doubt he is still a future Hall of Famer.

Jets DT Richardson suspended four games for drugs

The Jets first-round pick of USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams is looking better than ever.

Starting defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was suspended four games on Thursday for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy — in other words, taking street drugs rather than performance enhancers.

“I apologize for letting down my family, teammates, this organization and the fans. However, words aren’t enough. This is something that can only be addressed by how I handle myself from this point on,” Richardson said. “I don’t want this to take away from what the team is trying to accomplish. While I won’t be there at the start of the regular season, I will do whatever I can to support my teammates until I’m able to return to the field.”

Richardson was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and had eight sacks, 66 tackles and a forced fumble last season. With Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson also in the mix the Jets have the makings of one of the league’s best fronts this year, but they’ll have to wait until the season is a quarter of the way through to put it together.

Lions great Charlie Sanders dies at 68

The original Hall of Fame Sanders in Detroit died Thursday after a battle with cancer.

Tight end Charlie Sanders, who was drafted by the team in 1968 and retired a decade later  as the franchise’s all-time receptions leader, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007. Sanders went to seven Pro Bowls and had 4,137 career receiving yards on 336 catches. He is the lone Lion to be a member of the 1970s NFL All-Decade Team.

Sanders remained part of the Lions organization from the year he retired, starting as a radio broadcaster before joining the coaching staff as an assistant to Wayne Fontes, who is still the winningest coach in Lions history. Sanders was also part of Detroit’s front office since 1998.

Former Detroit mayor Dave Bing called him “The Ultimate Lion.”

“This city has been blessed to have somebody of his character and his ability as a football player,” Bing told the Detroit Free Press. “When you mix those two things together, he really represents the Lions organization and city of Detroit like nobody else.”


About Alex Hickey

Alex Hickey

Alex Hickey can vividly recall most significant NFL events going back to Walter Payton's final game in 1987, including the ones that didn't make him cry. Since 2008, his full-time job has been covering college football, specifically McNeese State, for the Lake Charles (La.) American Press. Free time is spent informing, amusing or annoying you for Football Insiders.