harrison.jpgBy Bruce Allen

That’s about the only emotion I can muster after reading Chris Mortensen and Len Pasquarelli‘s report on ESPN.com that Rodney Harrison is going to be suspended for four games “because he admitted to federal investigators that he obtained Human Growth Hormone.”

Very disappointing.

Harrison has been lauded as a stand-up guy and team leader during his time here in New England, and while this suspension doesn’t automatically wipe all of that out, it does add a taint to his career. Harrison has scheduled a conference call with reporters tonight, and I expect that he’ll take full responsibility for his actions, but the damage is done, and this is still a distraction that the team does not need.

This story is sure to be played up nationally as a hit to the “squeaky clean” Patriots image. This is not an image that the club has tried to put forth, mind you, but one that has been attached to them. They did after all sign Todd Sauerbrun last season afterthe punter was coming off his own four game substance related suspension.

With Eugene Wilson’s health again up in the air, is it possible that we’ll see James Sanders and rookie Brandon Meriweather manning the safety positions on opening day? The suspension also makes Asante Samuel’s return to the secondary all that much more important.

The receivers for the Jets, Chargers, Bills and Bengals can breathe a little easier now. On the flip side, this is four games in which we don’t have to worry about Harrison getting hurt.

Update: Albert Breer has Harrison’s full statement to reporters tonight. Harrison admits to using HGH, but said it was not for a “competitive edge” but instead for “accelerating the healing process from injuries I sustained playing football.” He apologizes to the fans, to kids who view him as a role model, his teammates and the Patriots organization and asks reporters not to hassle his teammates with questions while he is on suspension.

I don’t know…in my mind, while I want to fully accept the statement and totally forgive the guy, (and I’m glad he’s taking responsibility for his actions) it seems to me that accelerating the healing process IS a competitive edge…isn’t it?