The best defense is a good offense, and the New England Patriots’ Julian Edelman is going on offense to fight his four-game suspension to start the 2018 NFL season. Here’s the current breakdown.
Why was Edelman suspended?
Earlier this month, word came from the NFL that Edelman, who is recovering from a torn ACL, had violated the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Edelman faces a suspension for the first four games of the 2018 season after missing all of 2017 with the injury.
Edelman questioned how he could have violated NFL rules, and a later revelation in The MMQB cast some doubt on the testing process. “Edelman’s result was triggered by a substance that wasn’t immediately recognizable,” The MMQB’s Albert Breer wrote, “and there are scientists analyzing it.”
Edelman risks losing nearly $1 million in salary, per-game bonuses, and signing bonus. He would not be able to use the Patriots’ facilities for any purpose or have contact with Patriots coaches. At the moment, he would miss games against the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, and Miami Dolphins.
How will Edelman fight the suspension?
According to an ESPN report, Edelman will fight the suspension on two fronts. First, Edelman will question how a substance the NFL’s scientists couldn’t recognize could have triggered a positive result.
Second, Edelman will challenge the NFL’s handling of his sample, charging that the NFL mishandled and improperly delivered evidence critical to his case. Together, these challenges indicate that Edelman will not simply accept the NFL’s ruling, but apparently will seek to get it overturned entirely.
What are the odds of getting the suspension overturned?
It’s impossible to say given the lack of clarity on some key elements of the case. In most instances with positive identification of samples, there’s little opportunity to have a suspension overturned. But the uncertainty around the substance for which Edelman tested positive, as well as the potential for evidence mishandling, casts a bit more doubt on Edelman’s fate.
To help bolster his case, Edelman has hired an outside attorney, Alex Spiro, to represent his interests. Spiro has experience working with NBA players who have found themselves in legal trouble. ESPN raised the possibility that Spiro’s presence could mean Edelman, like fellow Patriot Tom Brady in the deflate-gate imbroglio, would take his case to federal court if the NFL verdict doesn’t break his way.
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