New York Jets defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd is suspended six games, effective immediately, for two separate violations of the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday.
The 25-year-old, who played in every game for the Jets in 2018, will be eligible to return Monday, Oct. 28.
What’s particularly notable about the suspension, however, was Shepherd’s candor in addressing the situation. He failed the two drug tests in late July while recovering from shoulder surgery, as well as a groin injury. While rehabbing the shoulder, and MRI revealed that Shepherd would need a hernia surgery for his groin, and while recovering from that procedure, he herniated the L4-L5 disc in his back.
The circumstances made it difficult for him to perform well on the field at an important time, he said.
"All that was going on, I was coming off of a subpar season and a new coaching staff, new playbook, new everything," Shepherd said. "In my mindset, I didn't feel very confident with how everything had gone thus far. In my mind, I was so prepared to come into this offseason and have a successful offseason and train very hard. I felt that because of these limitations, I wasn't going to be able to do that. I made a rash decision, an unwise decision and a selfish decision to look to certain PEDs in order to help me with that recovery process so I would be ready to go."
According to the NFL-NFLPA PED policy, Shepherd could have been suspended a maximum of 14 games (four games for the first violation and 10 for the second), but the league essentially split the difference, according to Pelissero.
Shepherd said he’ll continue to rehab near the Jets’ facility while suspended and noted that he felt some pressure to return to the field quickly.
“I‘m still trying to get my feet under me, literally," Shepherd said. "Most definitely, I want to be able to provide for my daughter and my family and myself, for sure. I don't use that as a crutch, though, or an excuse, because I'm definitely not the only person in the NFL with kids.”
While he’s only getting once suspension, another failed test would count as a third strike, and Shepherd could land a two-year ban, at minimum.
"I feel like I used eight of my nine lives. I kind of have to treat it like I have a peanut allergy -- if I get one more, it's going to be over for me. That's just my reality and I accept that,” he said.
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