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Ben Watson: Grateful for Another Opportunity to ‘Live a Life of Integrity,’ ‘Pursue Excellence’ in NFL

Michael Morris
By Michael Morris | May 28, 2019 | 11:57 AM EDT

NFL Tight End Benjamin Watson (MRCTV Video Screenshot)

In a lengthy Facebook post on Sunday, New England Patriots tight end (“TE”) Benjamin Watson wrote that he will face a four-game suspension for the 2019 season for a failed substance test, stating that he is grateful for another opportunity to “live a life of integrity” and “pursue excellence” in the NFL once again.

“I am excited and thankful to return to New England but very disappointed that I will not be able to play and contribute immediately,” wrote Benjamin Watson.  “This is not how I would want to enter a new locker room and attempt to earn my role on a new team. However, I respect the regulations that have been collectively bargained to promote fairness on the field of play and accept the discipline associated with my infraction. My goals as an athlete, teammate, friend, father, husband and believer have not changed. To live a life of integrity and humility while standing for kindness, justice and righteousness and to serve the people in the cities, regions and organizations that God places me in. Until my last day[,] I will continue to pursue excellence in my craft and perform to the best of my ability. I am grateful for yet another opportunity to do so in the NFL.”

New England Patriots TE Benjamin Watson’s comments came after the outspoken Christian athlete came out of retirement and signed a deal with the Patriots on May 9, 2019, as reported by NFL.com. “The 38-year-old Watson spent the 2018 season with the New Orleans Saints on a one-year deal. He announced his retirement in late December before this current development.

“The signing reunites Watson with head coach Bill Belichick,” according to NFL.com. “The Patriots originally selected Watson as a first-round pick in the 2004 draft and he played six seasons in New England before leaving after the 2009 season to join the Cleveland Browns. Watson played three seasons (2010-12) in Cleveland before his first stint with the Saints (2013-15). He then joined the Baltimore Ravens in 2016 for two seasons before returning to New Orleans last year.”

Watson, having initially decided to retire at the end of the 2018 season, detailed his decision to come out of retirement in his Facebook post as follows:

“As the days and weeks of the 2018 football season passed, I was certain that it would be my last. Injuries and health concerns, including a random bout with appendicitis the last week of the season confirmed my decision, and as I walked off the field for my last time, I had no plans to return. Over the following months, I started actively pursing other career opportunities. After every season during my playing career, I visit with a few doctors for health screenings. During these times we identify the cumulative effects of injuries, stressors, and exertion on my health and formulate an offseason plan for recovery. As a professional athlete for the last 15 years I know very well the limitations on what can be prescribed for my overall health. After my contract expired last March I told my doctors I was finished playing, went through a series of medical tests and was prescribed Bio Identical Testosterone Cypionate to assist in healing my body and mind.”

Later, on March 29, 2019, Watson was randomly tested under the NFL substance policies, “never thinking in that moment I’d want to come back” to the NFL. Then, in late April, “some clubs expressed interest in [Watson] playing[,] and after much deliberation and prayer,” Watson decided he wanted to return.

“Considering myself previously retired, I had forgotten all about my test in March until I got a letter on May 3rd saying my results were positive,” admitted Watson in his Facebook post. “I was devastated[,] and for obvious reasons[,] did not want to proceed. At that point[,] I knew that my decision to return to play would include a four game suspension[,] and I immediately discussed this new development with the clubs.

“Ultimately I decided to pursue another year and on May 9 the Patriots offered me a contract in spite of these circumstances,” wrote Watson.

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