Giants WR Golden Tate said doctor told him fertility drug was not banned
Giants wide receiver Golden Tate III never hesitated to take a prescribed fertility drug because the doctor who wrote the prescription told him he had given it to other NFL players and it was not banned.
Speaking to reporters a day after an independent arbiter upheld his suspension for the first four games of the regular season, Tate said Wednesday he was considering legal action against the doctor to recover the $1.2 million in salary he will lose during his suspension. He did not identify the doctor.
In the candid interview after practice, Tate said he was frustrated, accepted both the blame and the punishment, and added he was having a tough time for letting down his teammates and the organization for the start of the season.
‘‘I have been thinking about this since April and May,’’ Tate said. ‘‘This has been on my mind. I have lost a lot of sleep. It’s kind of hurt me to my core having to explain to the organization what is going on. I’m just ready to move forward. I just want to play football. You look at me. I am not trying to cheat.’’
Tate signed a $37.5 million contract as a free agent with the Giants in March. He said he started taking a fertility drug in April and a couple of days later said he was randomly tested for drugs by the league. He learned shortly after that the drug, which he said was clomifene, was a banned substance.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, players can use fertility drugs, but they must get prior approve before taking them. Tate did not.
‘‘Initially the doctor said it was not a banned substance and he had given it to other NFL players, that’s why I trusted it and kept living my life,’’ Tate said.
The 10-year veteran said he had second thoughts after talking about another player being suspended with someone who worked for him.
‘‘A light kind of went off in my head and I decided to call the doctor and make sure, just to make myself feel better,’’ Tate said. ‘‘I asked what the active ingredient was and he looked it up right then and there, and sure enough it was a banned substance.
‘‘If the doctor says I’m not sure, 100 percent I would have looked into it,’’ Tate said, adding he had looked into other drugs prescribed for him. ‘‘If the doctor had said I had never given it to any other NFL players, 1,000 percent I would have looked into it.’’
Tate and his wife, Elise, had their second child in February. He would not say why they went to a fertility specialist two months later.
‘‘That’s pretty personal,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t want to get into it.’’
While he didn’t answer the question, he was reminded he called two former Seattle teammates selfish for being suspended for using a recreation drug.
‘‘That’s a completely different situation than me taking a substance trying to have another kid,’’ said Tate, who split last season with the Lions and Eagles, catching 74 receptions for 795 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games.
Clomifene, which has the trade name of Clomid, can increase testosterone in males.
‘‘It’s very frustrating. I have no problem accepting the punishment,’’ said Tate, who first tweeted about his suspension in late July, saying he would appeal it. ‘‘Ultimately I am responsible for what is put in my body, ultimately. The tough thing I am dealing with is that I am letting down a lot of people. The guys in the locker room. The people in the organization. That’s what has been crushing me this whole situation.’’
Tate is eligible to practice in the preseason and play in games. He can have no contact with the team during his suspension.
Giants coach Pat Shurmur said a number of players will be used to replace Tate, including Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer, Russell Shepard, Darius Slayton, and TJ Jones.
Jimmy Garoppolo had a practice to forget in his final session before facing an opposing defense for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury in September.
Garoppolo threw interceptions on five straight pass attempts at practice for the 49ers, by far his worst session since his return from the torn ACL that cut short his 2018 season after three games.
‘‘I was the defensive coach today so I was pumped,’’ coach Kyle Shanahan said. ‘‘The defense did great today. Obviously, he struggled. You hope to never have a day like that. But I don’t think it’s never not happened to anyone. When you do that, you hope you can practice long enough and you have a chance to play out of it.’’
Garoppolo’s day went off the rails when safety Jaquiski Tartt intercepted a pass that was tipped by linebacker Kwon Alexander. Free safety Tarvarius Moore added two more interceptions, cornerback Richard Sherman jumped in front of tight end Ross Dwelley for one of his own and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon had one in the end zone on an attempt to Dante Pettis.
Garoppolo settled down a bit after that and did lead a two-minute drill into the red zone before Tartt nearly came up with another interception on the final play, only to have it go through his hands to Jordan Matthews for a completion short of the goal line.
Shanahan said he hopes a practice like this will be a learning experience for Garoppolo on how to deal with frustration when things don’t go the right way in games.
‘‘You want so badly to make it up the next play but the next play you still have to make the right decision and go with what the defense gives you,’’ Shanahan said. ‘‘Sometimes it’s hard to make the right decisions when you’re fired up and competitive. Usually when you make a bad play, it makes your mind go a little bit sideways. That’s why it is sometimes a good situation to put guys in and when that does happen sometimes you try to protect them a little bit in the game. But in practice it’s the exact opposite. When there’s an issue, you kind of poke at it a little bit more and see how guys react.’’
Garoppolo will get a chance to rebound when the 49ers hold joint practices with the Denver Broncos on Friday and Saturday in preparation for an exhibition game. This will be Garoppolo’s first time facing an opposing defense since injuring his knee in Kansas City last Sept. 23. He will also get a chance to play in the game on Monday night.
The one bright spot in Garoppolo’s poor performance was that it showed that maybe the 49ers will have a more opportunistic defense this season after setting NFL records for futility with just two interceptions and seven takeaways all last season.
San Francisco goes into the joint practices a bit shorthanded, especially on the defensive line where starting defensive ends Dee Ford and Nick Bosa remain sidelined. Ford (knee tendinitis) could return to practice next week for the first time since July 30.
Bosa had a severe ankle injury last week and his status for the season opener remains in doubt. Bosa worked out on the side Wednesday in an encouraging sign that he is making progress.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said making this missed time even more crucial is the fact that the team is implementing new techniques on the defensive line under coach Kris Kocurek.
‘‘That stuff, to me, is important,’’ Saleh said. ‘‘Do I think it will hinder us from still being able to get after the passer? No, I don’t think it will be too bad. I feel like there’s going to be an adjustment. We’re going to have a high celling once those guys get back of trying to master those techniques and master the relationship they have with one another so they can operate at a very high level.’’