New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson has been suspended for four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network. It's unclear what the substance is at this stage.
Richardson, 24, was a first-round pick by the Jets in 2013 and has been a key player on the team's defensive line, earning the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award after his first season. Jets head coach Todd Bowles released a statement offering the team's support for Richardson and saying the team will "welcome him back upon his return," according to Breer.
Richardson himself released a apologetic statement via the team, according to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports.
"I apologize for letting down my family, teammates, this organization and the fans," Richardson said in the statement. "However, words aren't enough. This is something that can only be addressed by how I handle myself from this point on."
His apology didn't end there, as he took to Twitter soon after the announcement.
I apologize for my mistake and for disappointing the people who mean everything to me.— Sheldon Richardson (@Godforshort) July 2, 2015
I vow to you, this will not happen again. My team will continue to push forward without me to start the season.— Sheldon Richardson (@Godforshort) July 2, 2015
I promise I will be there for them in everyway that I can until I am able to return.— Sheldon Richardson (@Godforshort) July 2, 2015
Since being drafted, Richardson has played in all 32 games with the Jets, totaling 144 tackles, 11.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. The Jets said that they will keep moving forward with preparations for next season. Richardson said he didn't want his suspension to take away from the team this season. He said he will "do whatever I can to support my teammates until I'm able to return to the field."
If the suspension is not reduced in any way, Richardson will miss five weeks from the team due to a bye in Week 5, returning for a game against Washington in Week 6. He'd miss matchups against the Browns, Colts, Eagles and Dolphins.