RENTON, Wash. — Seattle Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin was suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season on Friday after the league announced he violated the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Irvin will be eligible to participate in all offseason activities and preseason practices and games, but will be suspended without pay for the opening four games at Carolina, home for San Francisco and Jacksonville and at Houston. Irvin will be eligible to return to Seattle’s active roster on Sept. 30 following the Seahawks’ Week 4 game against the Texans.
“I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and Seahawks fans for making a mistake when I took a substance that is prohibited in the NFL without a medical exemption,” Irvin said in a statement released by the team. “I am extremely disappointed in the poor judgment I showed and take full responsibility for my actions. I will not appeal the discipline and instead will focus my energy on preparing for the season so I can begin earning your trust and respect again. I look forward to contributing to the team the moment I return.”
The loss of Irvin could be a significant blow for a team that has become a popular pick to contend for a spot in the Super Bowl. Irvin was expected to start at defensive end with Chris Clemons likely to miss the start of the season while recovering from knee surgery after being injured in Seattle’s playoff win at Washington last January.
Suddenly, Seattle’s focus on addressing the depth on the defensive line in free agency won’t be viewed as a luxury. Seattle signed Cliff Avril, Tony McDaniel and Michael Bennett in free agency to bolster a pass rush that was inconsistent for most of the 2012 season.
Irvin finished his rookie season with eight sacks but had just one in the final six weeks of the regular season. With Clemons out, Irvin got the start against Atlanta in the NFC playoffs and appeared overwhelmed by the Falcons’ offensive line while trying to be the main pass rusher on the Seahawks line.
Irvin’s suspension also continues a troubling trend of Seattle players running afoul of the league’s policies on banned substances. Since 2011, five Seahawks players — John Moffitt, Allen Barbre, Winston Guy, Brandon Browner and Irvin — have received four-game suspensions. All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman was also suspended last season but won his appeal.