By Terrance Turner
May 2, 2022
NFL wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has been suspended for six games of the 2022 NFL season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. (NFL reporter Ian Rapoport confirmed the news this afternoon). The specifics of the PED use are unknown, but Hopkins withdrew his appeal of the suspension, per Rapoport. So the six-game ban will stand.
Hopkins is coming off of an injury-riddled season that was one of the lowest-producing of his career (42 catches for 572 yards and eight touchdowns). He missed three games in the middle of last season with an ankle injury and then missed the final four games due to an MCL inury suffered in week 14, according to ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss. The Arizona Cardinals went 3-4 without Hopkins and were then blown out by the Rams in the playoffs. Hopkins missed the playoff games, too.
It was an uncharacteristic season for a man who had earned a reputation as one of the most productive (and reliable) recievers in the league: Hopkins only missed two games in his six seasons with the Houston Texans! During that time, he consistently shined, generating 1,378 receiving yards and a career-high 13 touchdowns in 2017. In 2018, he posted career highs in receptions (115) and receiving yards (1,572), plus 11 TDs.
Hopkins’ production made it all the more shocking when Texans coach Bill O’Brien traded him to the Arizona Cardinals in 2020. (The move reportedly came amid tensions between Hopkins and O’Brien.) Hopkins told Sports Illustrated that he welcomed the change, calling it “the outcome I wanted”. But neither team has gotten the outcome they wanted: the Texans have had two consecutive losing seasons (4-12 and 4-13) since the trade, and the Cardinals lost to the Rams 34-11 in their last playoff game.
This is the first time Hopkins has been penalized for PED use. The news is all the more baffling given his resistance to the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the Houston Chronicle, “Last offseason, Hopkins posted on social media that he didn’t want to get the COVID-19 vaccine, tweeting, “Never thought I would say this, but being put in a position to hurt my team because I don’t want to partake in the vaccine is making me question my future in the @NFL.” Hopkins tweet came after the NFL ruled that teams would have to forfeit games that can’t be rescheduled due to a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players. He later deleted the tweet, and tweeted, “Freedom?”
The irony of Hopkins refusing the vaccine (but apparently not steroids) was not lost on Twitter users, who pointed out the dichotomy: