Taylor Lewan spoke for nearly 15 minutes answering questions Thursday about his impending four-game suspension that will begin when the NFL regular season starts, pending an improbable successful appeal.
Lewan, who made the announcement Wednesday on Twitter, said he made Titans general manager, head coach Mike Vrabel and controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk aware of the situation as soon as he received the letter from the league in late June. Lewan said he took the test where he came back with a positive sample for ostarine on May 28 and heard from the league about a month later.
He also apologized to his teammates as the Tennessee Titans players reported to training camp Thursday with the first practice starting Friday.
“It’s unfortunate. I told the team today. I wanted to tell them before. It was unfortunate that a lot of media people started sniffing around and starting getting ahold of it, and I just wanted to be sure that I was the one to break the news,” Lewan said. “It could be one of those things that maybe led into the middle of August or maybe week one and I just wanted to it to be as little a distraction as possible.
“I just wanted to make clear to them that I didn’t take anything knowingly. I know what the policy is and I know people have split opinions on it. But I have never done anything knowingly that would cheat the game. I’m having all my supplements tested right now and doing all that, but for the most part, what I said in the video is true.”
Lewan, who signed an $80 million contract extension approximately one year ago, said he and his wife sat down after the 2018 season and began discussing quality of life after football, and some things he could do to help keep his mind intact. He became concerned after a concussion sustained in the season opener in Miami last year.
“My wife and I sat down after the season, and we talked about what happened in week one and everything like that and we talked about a plan of what’s important after I leave football. It’s important to me to be able to walk around with my daughter and have a coherent conversation and hopefully slow down the effects of what this game can possibly do to you,” Lewan said. “We went to see doctors and nutritionists, but never once did I ask for anything that would be close to cheating or anything like that.”
Lewan said that the supplements he was taking were not supposed to contain any banned substance, but admitted that in hindsight he should have had it tested. He added that he may buy in bulk in the future and have part of the batch tested before ingesting it.
“The FDA doesn’t have any regulation on supplements at all, which is something that obviously needs to change and is extremely unfortunate,” Lewan said. “There is really no way to be 100 percent, and I’m working with my group of people, and we’re gonna figure out a healthy safe way to do this, so this doesn’t come up again and I don’t become a distraction to this team.”
Robinson talked about the mislabeling of substances as well and said that Lewan was subject to the risk with the supplements.
“If there’s nothing on the label, you’re not going to know that it was in there. It’s like anything else. My daughters have a gluten allergy, and when they eat bars and things that say, ‘Processed in a facility that may contain wheat.’ So, when they eat that bar, they’re taking a risk of getting a tummy ache,” Robinson said. “This is obviously a more serious situation than that. Again, he’s talked to you guys in-depth about the situation, he’s been transparent with us, he’s got our support.”
At Thursday’s press conference, Vrabel also appreciated Lewan’s transparency regarding the situation.
“He’s an emotional person, he’s an emotional football player,” Vrabel said. “So, it goes both ways – with the good and the bad. I think that it’s unfortunate, but he was transparent, he was honest and that’s all we could ask for as an organization. Yeah, it’s disappointing, but our business is not to avoid distractions, it’s to try to handle them the best we can.”
In breaking the news to teammates, the ones who were asked at Thursday’s press conference voiced support for Lewan, who will be able to practice with the team and play in preseason.
“I told him that I loved him and us as players, we support him on this team. He’s our brother, and we’re always going to have his back,” safety Kevin Byard said.
Lewan knows that there will be an adjustment for him in camp this year, and he said he will make it a point to get the tackles ready to go on without him in the season’s first month.
“My goal in this training camp is to do whatever I can to help the tackles get ready for Week One – that’s the most important thing,” Lewan said. “This whole thing is not about me. It’s about the team and me helping out as much as I can to make sure it’s a smooth transition. The main thing for me is to get ready to play in Week 5.”