As Lane Johnson walked up to the podium outside the NovaCare Complex, a reporter asked him how he was doing.
“I’ve been better,” said the Eagles’ second-year offensive tackle.
Johnson’s four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy was announced earlier this week. Today was the first time he could tell his side of the story, but Johnson opted not to provide many details.
“It’s something I didn’t get cleared up with [head athletic trainer Chris] Peduzzi and something I didn’t really think about,” he said. “I got the paper back probably the first of May, mid-May. So I knew it was coming. It was just a long, drawn-out process. It’s something I’ve gotta deal with for four weeks.
“The toughest part’s gonna be not being able to be around here. I can’t play, I can’t practice. So I’m trying to go find somewhere to train where I can somehow keep in good football shape where I can come back and play well in Week 5.”
Johnson said he took medication in April that was prescribed to him by a family physician he’s used over the years. However, asked what the drug was and what the medical issue was, Johnson said Chip Kelly advised him not to get into details.
Johnson later added this on Twitter:
To clarify my interview — I wanted to keep the details of my medical condition private. Chip simply supported me in MY decision.
— Lane Johnson (@Lanejohnson65) July 25, 2014
Of course, given the lack of clarity, Johnson understands people will now be free to draw their own conclusions.
“That’s people’s opinions,” he said. “That’s nothing I can stop or prevent, but it’s ultimately my mistake. I brought this all on myself, and that’s something I’ve got to deal with – letting my teammates down, letting Chip down and Howie [Roseman] and everybody in the Eagles’ organization.”
Johnson was alerted of the suspension in mid-May and told Kelly and Roseman about it immediately.
Given that Jake Knott was also suspended earlier this offseason, he was asked if there’s an issue with how the team oversees what the athletes are taking.
“No it’s not that,” Johnson said. “There’s a list of like a hundred or two hundred banned substances that you can’t take. They’re all over the building. It’s just something I think athletes get kind of carried away a little bit. Obviously supplements aren’t FDA regulated so it’s real easy to maybe take something you’re not aware of, but that’s no excuse. In our meetings, they tell us all the time to talk to our trainers, and it’s something I didn’t do.”
Asked specifically what Kelly told him, Johnson said: “We have all the resources here. It’s something athletes have done before, but we have all the resources here to help you with any issue. So something I know in the future to do next time.”
Johnson will not be allowed in the building for a four-week period after the preseason is over. He’ll be eligible to return on Sept. 29.
“It’s all my fault,” he said. “I have nobody to blame but myself. It’s all on me.”