New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was on his way back from a knee injury that cost him his entire 2017 season, but on Thursday, his comeback was set back by four games when the NFL slapped the 32-year-old with a suspension to start the 2018 season. The league said the suspension was for a violation of the NFL policy on performance enhancing drugs, according to an NFL.com report.
The suspension only added to the controversy over the controversial personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, who was working with Edelman. Guerrero is future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady’s business partner in his TB12 athletic training company, and Brady is devoted to Guerrero, who he has credited with creating the diet and exercise program. Brady says the program has allowed him to play at an elite level past the age of 40, a rarity for NFL quarterbacks, according to the Daily Mail.
Only 17 NFL quarterbacks before Brady have stayed in the league past the age of 40, according to That One Sports Show, and none have achieved the long-term success that Brady has been able to maintain.
But Guerrero and his methods have raised questions in New England, despite the endorsement of the iconic Brady. A 2015 Boston Magazine exposé labeled Guerrero a “snake oil salesman,” who previously claimed falsely to be a doctor and pushed remedies that he said could cure cancer, brain concussions, and AIDS, according to the Boston article.
But Guerrero is not a Patriots employee, and during the 2017 season, Head Coach Bill Belichick banned the trainer from traveling with the team, as well as from the sidelines during games. This reportedly caused a rift between Belichick and Brady, as well as with star tight end Rob Gronkowski, according to NBC Sports.
Gronkowski also trained with Guerrero, and gave him credit for increasing his flexibility and helping him recover from a series of injuries.
But after Edelman reportedly failed a PED test, Guerrero quickly moved to deflect suspicion from himself and his methods, according to CBS Sports.
“I’ve known Julian since his rookie year and he is a phenomenal athlete who takes his training seriously — it’s disappointing to hear today’s news. Elite athletes sometimes work with multiple coaches and health professionals as part of their training,” Guerrero said in a statement on Twitter. “Here at our facility, we take a natural, holistic, appropriate and, above all, legal approach to training and recovery for all of our clients. And anyone who would suggest otherwise is irresponsible, and just plain wrong.”
In April, Brady uncharacteristically elected to remain absent from the Patriots offseason workout program, saying that he wanted to spend more time with his family — and working with Guerrero, according to ESPN reporter Jeff Darlington on his Twitter account.
Edelman earlier this week said that TB12, Guerrero’s company with Brady, had helped him “get to where I want to be.” He had never before failed a PED test, though he had been tested “hundreds” of times in his nine-year NFL career, according to ESPN. Edelman is appealing the suspension, but if it is upheld, it will cost him nearly $500,000 in salary, and games against the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, and Miami Dolphins.