Rodney Harrison understands what Julian Edelman is going through. In 2007, after the former Patriots safety tried to speed up his return from injury, Harrison was suspended four games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. That experience leaves him uniquely placed to offer Edelman advice while the wide receiver appeals a four-game suspension of his own.
“If you’re a part of the Patriots, and something like this happens, people from the outside, they think you’re a cheater anyway,” the NBC analyst told the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian. “Ultimately, I’d tell him, ‘It doesn’t matter what other people think. You know what type of person you are. You just have to bounce back from this. You can’t allow it to affect you, you have to use your time wisely.’”
Harrison noted people put “a lot of guilt and pressure” on themselves because they’re trying to do the right things. He advised Edelman to apologize to the people hurt by the situation, then move on.
Edelman, who missed the entirety of last season after tearing his ACL in a preseason game, did post an apology on Instagram shortly after news broke that he had been suspended.
“I am very sorry — I don’t know what happened,” he wrote. “I’ve taken many, many tests obviously over the course of my career, and nothing like this has ever happened.”
That explanation rang true to Harrison.
“You can take a supplement from GNC and it can have an extra something in it. I don’t think he was taking straight PEDs. I think he made a mistake,” said the two-time Super Bowl champion. “You think he wants to lose the type of money he’s going to lose from the suspension? You think he wants to miss four games from his teammates after missing last year? No, he doesn’t. He feels terrible about it. But at the end of the day, he’s going to have to forgive himself and move on.”
If the suspension holds, Edelman will lose $988,000 in base salary and bonuses. But Harrison doesn’t believe it will cost one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets the respect of his fellow pros.
“People respect the way he approaches the game, his toughness, his mentality, everything he’s established over the years, so I don’t think guys [in the league] are going to lose respect for him,” he said.