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August 13, 2016

‘It’s been a nightmare’: Facing 10-game suspension, Lane Johnson feels wronged by NFLPA

Eagles NFL

While news of Lane Johnson’s positive test for peptide (and the 10-game suspension that comes with it as a second PED offense) rocked the Delaware Valley earlier this week, the Eagles right tackle has known for all of training camp.

According to Johnson, trying to practice with the news hanging over his head has been the toughest part.

“It’s been a nightmare,” Johnson said. “I’ve known this for a couple weeks and had to come out here and act like nothing’s wrong, and that’s been the hardest thing. The last thing I want to be labeled as is a cheater. My son looked me in the eye and told me, ‘Hey daddy, what have you been doing?’”

According to Johnson, nothing deliberately wrong. While the 26-year-old acknowledged that he was at fault for his first PED offense (that landed him a four-game suspension at the beginning of the 2014 season), he feels wronged by the NFL Players Association this time around.

Specifically, Johnson believes that the details of the amino acid in question weren’t properly conveyed to him. He said that the supplement was approved by the app (Aegis Shield) provided to players by the NFL Players Association. And because it would cost “thousands of dollars” in Johnson’s estimation to test for every substance in a specific product, he follows what that app tells him.

“I feel like the players have no rights,” Johnson said. “I feel the supplement industry is not regulated so you do not know what’s in it. It’s hard to believe coming from a second-time offender, but I want that to be clear that the NFLPA does not stand up for players.

“They don’t check the supplements, they give us an app. And then when you call them and ask them if you test positive for something they approved, it doesn’t matter.”

"It’s hard to believe coming from a second-time offender, but I want that to be clear that the NFLPA does not stand up for players."

Johnson is saying that he took all of the necessary precautions and utilized all the resources that were given to him, which is why he’s channeling his frustration toward the process more than the result of the test.

To be clear, though, Johnson believes that he’s going to be suspended. He’s “not very confident” the B sample will provide any different results when it comes back in a few weeks (“borderline first game”).

Johnson is trying to prove that his intentions weren’t bad, but even if he succeeds in that endeavor, it sounds like the suspension will still likely stand.

“Even if [the supplement] does come back contaminated, there’s nothing I can do,” Johnson said. “The NFL says you’re responsible for what you put in your body, but I feel as players, I think there needs to be more coverage.”

During Saturday’s practice, Johnson worked with the second team offensive line, a sign that Doug Pederson and the coaching staff are preparing for Life without Lane. And for now, he's OK with that.

“That’s smart of them,” Johnson said. “I’m just trying to take it in stride and go from there.”

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann