sports 1 week ago

Patriots' Julian Edelman opens up about PED suspension: 'People don't know what happened'

Sporting News — (Gabrielle McMillen)

The start of the 2018 season for Julian Edelman was a career low, but it ended on a huge high.

The Patriots receiver missed the first four weeks of the season after he was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. Five months later, he was named Super Bowl MVP after the Patriots defeated the Rams in Super Bowl 53.

“After going through this whole year, these last 24 months of my life have been a roller coaster. You go out and you tear an ACL. Then all of a sudden you have a suspension that you’re facing. A lot of things go down and then you end up … a huge low of your life. Because football is life," Edelman told NBC Sports' Peter King

Edelman missed 19 games total in the span of two seasons — after he tore his ACL before the season began in 2017 he was out the entire year. He was finally ready to go again before the 2018 season when the NFL informed him he tested positive for a banned substance.

"That’s what people don’t understand with me. This is what I am. This is what I was put here to do. This is what I sacrificed all my time for — my friends, my family, everything like that … And then when you’re told you can’t play football for four weeks because of something that happened that you really can’t get into because you really don’t know what happened, it’s tough. You learn a lot from that.

“When that happened, I had a strong corner behind me. My father and I kind of just sat back and said, 'All right, we have a problem here. What’s this problem? Let’s make sure this never happens again. Let’s own up to it. Let’s take your penalty like a man, regardless of the circumstances.’ … From this whole thing, I’ve learned that you’ve just got to stay in your routine, and you’ve just got to work your way out of it.

“People don’t know what happened. I can’t sit here and [due to] the league rules say what happened.”

While Edelman isn't breaking NFL rules by discussing his suspension, he said he wanted to leave that part of the season firmly in the past.

“I’m not going down that road," he said. "I served what I had to serve and I accept that. I know a lot of people were disappointed in me for it. I apologize. It’ll never happen again.”

Since Edelman was banned from any contact with the Patriots and from using their facilities, he said he kept in shape by working out at Boston College and Harvard with former NFL players.

Edelman said focusing on returning in Week 5 is what kept him from slumping into a dark place.

“It helped me keep my mind out of the gutter," he said. "It’s easy to go there, that route. Especially nowadays with all this social media and this noise. If you want to find noise, you could find noise.”