EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Golden Tate has played in at least 15 games in each of the previous eight seasons, but he won't reach that total this year because of an NFL suspension that will sideline him for the entire month of September.
Tate was suspended without pay for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Once the preseason concludes, Tate must stay away from the team until Sept. 30. Tate's appeal of the suspension was denied.
"It's very frustrating," Tate said today in his first public comments since the league announced its ruling yesterday. "I have no problem with accepting the punishment. I'm responsible for what's put into my body, ultimately. The tough thing I am dealing with is I'm letting down a lot of people. My family, the guys in the locker room, the people in the organization that brought me here. That's kind of what's been crushing me with this whole situation.
"I'm taking it day by day. The Giants have been overly supportive of this situation and worked with me throughout. I'm just ready to move on and get back to playing football. I guess my wife put it into perspective for me, although these times are very, very hard on me because I love this game and I take it very, very seriously. I think I've had a clean slate for the majority of my career. She put it into perspective yesterday. She said I played 182 games in my career, four games is a small part of that. Although right now it's very hard to swallow and hard to deal with, she kind of put it into perspective."
Coach Pat Shurmur supports Tate, but his focus is on Friday night's home preseason game vs. Chicago and preparing his team for the regular season, which begins against the Cowboys in AT&T Stadium on Sept. 8.
"You just move on," Shurmur said. "It's just like anything that happens to a team. So, you just move on and adjust.
"This isn't the first time a player has been suspended. He went through the process to try to appeal it and all. We just won't have him for four weeks, so you move on. You make adjustments, and then wait for him to get back in Week 5."
Tate, who joined the Giants as a free agent on March 14, will miss games against Dallas, Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Washington.
"I have to figure out what's allowed as far as communication with the coaches and people inside the building (during the suspension)," Tate said. … "I'm going to get with (strength and conditioning) coach (Aaron) Wellman and get an intense workout plan or something that allows me to stay in tip-top shape, so once I get back in Week 5 I can hit the ground running. Like every year, you kind of use camp to get in shape for the season. I have to come in that Monday after the fourth game ready to rock and roll and ready to be rolling. This is all new to me and I was expecting not to have this suspension, but I am going to deal with it. I'm going to deal with it the best I possibly can, stay positive and continue to try to lead this team and just work through it."
Tate said he tested positive for clomiphene, which was in a fertility drug that he took. He learned after the test that it is one of the substances that is banned by the NFL.
"A few weeks after my test, I went back and spoke to the doctor," Tate said. "Initially, the doctor said it was not a banned substance. In fact, he had given it to other NFL players, which is why I trusted it and kept living my life. I was out to dinner one night with a guy who worked for me and he started talking about another player who was getting suspended for something completely different. A light went off in my head and I said, 'Let me call the doctor to make sure, to make myself feel better.' I asked him what the active ingredient was and he looked it up right then and there and sure enough it was a banned substance."
Tate said he didn't approach the league prior to taking the fertility drug because the unnamed doctor told him it did not contain a banned substance.
"I think ultimately because the doctor had said no, it's not a banned substance and I have prescribed it to other NFL guys," he said. "If the doctor says I'm not sure, I would have 100 percent looked into it. If the doctor never said he had never given it to other NFL players, I 1,000 percent would have looked into it. I've gone through the TUE process for a couple medicines and I completely understand it."
The NFL gives no leeway in these situations to players, who are solely responsible for what they put in their bodies. Tate thought he made a strong case to at least have the suspension shortened, but the league ruled otherwise.
"It's a slippery slope," Tate said. "If you let my situation slide, then you have other guys that would probably try to say the same thing and it can open up a can of worms, that's what I'm assuming. I have some ideas that I'm going to present to the NFL when the time comes. I think there are some ways to work with the players.
"I just thought after we looked at the facts and the situation that the NFL would be understanding," he said. "It's kind of a non-tolerance policy."
"He's been very honest and open about what happened," Shurmur said. "Golden's a great teammate. Obviously, they need to be smart. Players need to always know what they're putting in their bodies. It's a constant reminder, but I think they all know that."
Tate can continue practicing with the team and play in the final three preseason games. Then he will begin a very unwanted four-week break.
"I think you just take it day-by-day," he said. "I honestly think the hardest part is just about over. I've been thinking about this since April or May. This has been on my mind. I've lost a lot of sleep. It has kind of hurt me to my core having to explain to the organization what's going on. I'm just ready to move forward. I just want to play football. Look at me, I'm not trying to cheat. I think I have represented the NFL shield pretty well in my career. I have achieved a lot of things, and I hope this doesn't smear that reputation that I have worked very hard for."
*The Giants today filled the opening on their roster by signing defensive back Terrell Sinkfield, Jr. The 6-1, 195-pounder has been with seven NFL teams since 2013, including the Giants, but has never played in a regular-season game.
He entered the league as a rookie free agent from Northern Iowa on May 3, 2013 and has also been with Green Bay, Buffalo, the Giants (from Aug. 21-26, 2013), Minnesota, the Jets and the Raiders, who released him last Sept. 11. Sinkfield has also played for three teams in the Canadian Football League.