The Indianapolis Colts and superstar pass rusher Robert Mathis received some bad news yesterday afternoon from the NFL. Mathis was suspended four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, but quite frankly the suspension was for an absolutely terrible reason. He was suspended for using a fertility drug as he and his wife were trying to have a child, and it seems ridiculous for the NFL to control that aspect of his life.
Yes, Mathis should have gone through the necessary protocol and called the NFL to make sure the drug was not a violation of the policy. That being said, his doctor assured him that he would not get in trouble for taking the drug, which obviously turned out to be incorrect. Here is a quote from the statement that Mathis issued on his suspension.
“It is difficult for me to address the circumstances surrounding this suspension because they involve very personal medical information, but it is very important to me that my fans, particularly young people, understand what did and did not occur. Like many families, my wife and I faced fertility challenges, and I sought medical assistance. I specifically asked the doctor if the medication he prescribed for me would present a problem for NFL drug testing, and unfortunately, he incorrectly told me that it would not. I made the mistake of not calling the NFL or NFLPA to double check before I took the medication at the end of last season. The union has worked very closely with me to present all of the facts and medical records for consideration of discipline that does not include a suspension because of the unique facts of my case, but the Commissioner refused the request. I am deeply saddened that this situation will prevent me from contributing to my team for four games, and I regret that I didn’t cross check what my doctor told me before I took the medication.” I- Robert Mathis
After reading that quote, what message does the NFL seem to be sending to their employees? It seems to me that they are telling their players that football comes before family, and that quite simply shouldn’t be the case. It’s very disheartening to hear this quote for Mathis, as he was simply trying to have a child with his wife.
Granted, the NFL’s suspension of Mathis was technically by the book, but the rule is an absolute disgrace to the league. Mathis made an appeal to commissioner Roger Goodell, but as mentioned in the quote from Mathis, he was turned down and the suspension was upheld. It would be one thing if the fertility drugs gave Mathis an advantage on the football field, or even had anything to do with football.
The most disappointing part about this entire situation is that Mathis has had a spotless career off-the-field so far. He has been a model of professionalism, and one of the NFL’s most exciting defensive playmakers. Despite the lack of judgement in not calling the NFL, a player should not be suspended when a medical professional assures them that they will not violate the substance abuse policy.
Unfortunately, the NFL didn’t get things right even when they were given a second chance with the appeal. The league showed just how much they truly care about their players off the field, and it is a very concerning stand that they are taking. It certainly looks like Goodell and the the NFL believe that they should be allowed to control the ability for one of their players to take steps necessary to have a child. This is an issue with the league, and needs to be looked at immediately and changed.
Overall, the Colts will support Mathis in his four-game suspension. The players, coaching staff, front office, and fans all know that the NFL is in the wrong, and that Mathis will come back prepared to take “revenge” on the field after his suspension is over. Hopefully, this ridiculous rule will be amended in the near future, and players can focus on their families first without gaining an unfair advantage when it comes to football.