Tight end Kellen Winslow of the New York Jets has been suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Sources report Winslow tested positive for performance enhancing substances and is suspended without pay for the next four weeks. Winslow will lose a little over $197,000 while on suspension, but takes responsibility for the positive test.
In a statement released through his publicist, Winslow expressed surprise upon learning he tested positive for banned substances. He stated he looked into possible sources of the positive test but does not know what could have showed up in his system to indicate he was using anything that could have created the results and could find no medical cause for it either. “I do not take substances that list any banned ingredient, but the NFL policy is strict, so I am accountable for the results.
Winslow went on to apologize to fans, the team and coaches and indicated he will use the time away from the game to continue to maintain his ability to contribute to the team.
Per the suspension, Winslow will not be eligible to play with the Jets again until Nov 4. The Jets have a bye after playing the New Orleans Saints on Nov 3, so Winslow’s first chance to get back on the field will not be until Nov 17 when they travel to play the Buffalo Bills.
The Jets signed Winslow to a one year contract in June after a three-day tryout. He is the leading receiver on the team, with 17 catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns. He was hired as a number two tight end behind Jeff Cumberland, who Coach Rex Ryan calls “a young stud tight end.” He praised Cumberland, saying he is “a good player” who can block and “does a nice job receiving.”
Winslow has been something of an NFL wanderer since he was drafted as the 6th overall pick in 2004. He was traded away by the Cleveland Browns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was subsequently released from the Seattle Seahawks practice squad. Winslow requested release from the New England Patriots after playing only one game last season, seeing limited play time available behind Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
Winslow’s career has been marked by injury as well. He broke his right leg after only two games in his rookie year. A year later, he suffered a torn ACL in a motorcycle accident. Despite missing time, the 30-year old tight end was selected to the 2008 Pro Bowl after posting a career high 82 catches for 1106 yards and five touchdowns.
Losing Winslow may put a dent in the Jets passing game, but they do have Cumberland as the starting tight end. As insurance, they also have Konrad Reuland and added Zach Sudfeld. Reuland had 11 catches for 83 yards in his rookie season last year, and only one catch this season. Sudfeld was claimed off waivers last week from the New England Patriots. Coach Ryan has indicated in light of Winslow’s absence, Sudfeld will take the field in his place.
When asked, Ryan indicated Winslow was expected to remain with the Jets. When pressed about Winslow’s desire to continue with New York, Ryan deferred reporters to Winslow himself. “I think you’d have to ask him.” He went on to speak well of Winslow, saying he has “done a tremendous job” in New York, and called him “a warrior” and “a great competitor.”
Winslow is the second Jet suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Mike Goodson was also suspended for four games earlier this season. With the strict policy in place, the league will continue to keep its players clean and healthy for the sport so many fans love.
Written by: Brandi Tasby