It was announced this week that Philadelphia Eagles tackle Lane Johnson has been suspended for the first four games of the regular season when the Eagles will play Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Washington, and San Francisco. Johnson’s suspension was due to his violation of the National Football League’s policy on performance enhancing substances. The team issued the following statement:
“We’re very disappointed to learn of his suspension. We have spoken to Lane about the details of the suspension. He understood what he did wrong and took full responsibility. The key for him, however, is to learn from that mistake and move forward with his preparation for the 2014 season.”
While the Eagles explanation was short and to the point, Johnson himself issued his own public apology via the team site saying,
“In April while training, I mistakenly and foolishly put a prescribed medication in my body to help with a medical issue. I mistakenly failed to clear it with Eagles trainers and check the NFL list of banned substances. I am extremely sorry for this mistake and I will learn from it and be smarter in the future. “I would like to sincerely apologize to Mr. Lurie, Howie Roseman, Coach Kelly and his staff, my teammates and our amazing Philadelphia Eagles fans. This will be very hard on me to not be battling with my teammates for four games – but I will be ready and better than ever when I return.”
It’s painful to admit, but to no one’s surprise, I’ve made some poor decisions in my life. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all done things we aren’t proud of. Before I delve into Johnson’s individual case, however, I need to ask out loud if the NFL and the Player’s Union are doing everything they can to protect players as it pertains to PED’s? The fact that players are getting bigger and once 200 pound men morph into 300+ pound giants in short time periods certainly, in my mind, begs the question as to whether or not the performance enhancing substance issue is broader than anyone realizes? NFL players are men, and they are ultimately responsible for their own actions, so I’m not pointing fingers at the league nor the union. But, are the players who suit up really being protected?
I’m a big believer in taking a sincere apology at face value, and in the case of Lane Johnson, he has never, at any level, violated league performance enhancing substances policies. Some who see Johnson’s apology might immediately ask if he “really meant what he said?” In my experience with apologies, both giving and receiving, I’ve found that the truly difficult task of measuring the sincerity of the apology lies within the individual’s taking responsibility for the damage inflicted upon those around him or her. In other words, gauging how truly “sorry” someone is can be seen in how pained they are about the consequences caused to other people, not themselves.
Lane’s apology is adamant about the negative he inflicted upon the Philadelphia Eagle’s organization and the “amazing Philadelphia Eagles fans,” and so I believe he is sincere. I am not making excuses for the young man, and I’m certainly not implying that a well crafted apology letter makes up for the use of illegal substances. However, he made a poor decision and he is paying the price. Fair or unfair, folks will ask whether or not Lane Johnson is playing with the help of PED’s until he regains their trust that he’s playing honestly.
I think Lane’s blunder carries substantial consequences for he and the Philadelphia Eagles organization, and I say that anyone who’s never made a mistake should be the first one to throw him under the proverbial bus.