It comes as no surprise that most NFL players smoke a little on the side, some obviously more than others, but it comes as a great shocker when veteran players of the caliber of TE Antonio Gates get caught violating the substance abuse policy. The Chargers will miss the veteran for the first four games of the season but the Chargers should definitely be prepared and well off with TE Ladarius Green already having shown that he can be the man at tight end. Gates has always been a reliable option for QB Philip Rivers, and even while most people thought Gates was at the end of his career he put up Pro Bowl numbers, which means he will definitely be missed by the Chargers one way or another.
Star defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was also hit with a suspension, and this one will cost the New York Jets more. Richardson has arguably been one of the best DL the last 2 seasons, earning himself a rookie of the year award and making the pro bowl. With rookie Leonard Williams now in play, the Jets will be just fine for the first quarter of the season to at least figure out how the defense will play out. Having Muhammad Wilkerson on the defensive side is also a plus for the Jets defense, they are certainly going to be a powerful defense to play against.
One of the biggest surprises of the 2014 season, Rolando McClain made the Dallas Cowboys defense one to be reckoned with. He was one of the finalists for comeback player of the year and a perennial piece of why the Cowboys where a big championship contender last season. This time around, McClain showed why he has never been a reliable player and the four games without him will cost the Cowboys dearly, even with Sean Lee coming back from injury. They don’t have any reliable player to replace McClain during his absence.
Even less notable players like Green Bay Packers Datone Jones are being hit with suspensions. With B.J. Raji coming back after missing last season, the Packers will certainly not miss Jones with his suspension. Datone Jones has tons of potential but he is certainly not an intricate part of the team, and with this he is certain to take a back seat to other players and wait until he gets another shot to prove what hes got.
The NFL is certainly not afraid to suspend whoever it needs to. Veteran players or rookies, nobody is safe from the league if you violate the substance abuse policy that so many players take for granted and don’t think about. This is certainly just a start and there will be more notable players suspended for this.