Julian Edelman's road to recovery has taken a turn for the worse. The New England Patriots wide receiver didn't have any sort of setback from the torn ACL he suffered during last year's preseason, but he has certainly damaged his reputation.
The 32-year-old receiver is suspended for the first four games of the 2018 campaign for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, and he went to Instagram to apologize.
The only problem? He doesn't even acknowledge what he is apologizing for.
"It's been one heck of a few months and a crazy year. My deepest apologies to my family, friends, peers, coaches and fans," he wrote on his @edelman11 Instagram account. "What I can say, and what I am most thankful for, is the overwhelming support I have received from everyone. The love and support has truly helped me through what has been a challenging time."
As cryptic as the social media post might be, there's no doubt it is about the four-game suspension for PEDs.
Edelman, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots, said he was "definitely accountable" for his actions.
"It's disappointing with the penalty and the findings," the 5-foot-10 veteran told reporters. "I'm definitely accountable for that. But ultimately my focus is going out and trying to work my knee and get better each day. It was a tough last year. Watching your team go out and play great football without you."
A long, difficult calendar year to return to form is hard enough, and having to wait until Week 5 to play again will sting, but the hit this will take on his reputation will be even greater.
Edelman, who is a full participant in New England's training camp, declining to say what substance led to his suspension is not a good look.
It's safe, and it's what most every professional athlete would do. It's just not a good look and might be perceived as an admission of guilt.
What's in the past is in the past, according to Edelman, but is there a way to look beyond the suspension moving forward for anyone not completely in the New England camp or Patriots fans?
Mistakes happen. Edelman, who recorded 98 catches for 1,106 yards and three touchdowns in 2016, probably should get the benefit of the doubt here.
Yet, it's still hard to take the apology very seriously at all because something seems fishy about the entire situation.