By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — In the NFL, no PED suspension is ever truly “shocking.” It’s widely assumed — fairly or unfairly — that players across the league take a variety of substances in order to build and prepare their bodies to withstand the beating it must endure in order to survive in the NFL. Staying healthy in a league with so much violence from players who are so fast and so strong is simply not natural.
Still, the news of Julian Edelman facing a four-game suspension was nevertheless on the surprising end of things, if only because Edelman ranks among the more prominent NFL names to ever find himself in such a position. In terms of name recognition, Edelman ranks among Richard Sherman, Mark Ingram, Rodney Harrison, Doug Martin, and Shawne Merriman as one of the more famous in recent years — though Sherman did have his suspension overturned on appeal.
But on a smaller scale, considering how much of a microscope trainer Alex Guerrero is already working under, Thursday’s news is certain to brighten that spotlight. We’ll dive into that a bit here.
First, it should be noted that Edelman’s case is still in the appeal stage, according to ESPN. There’s at least a non-zero chance that Edelman wins his appeal, and the PED story goes away. Sherman, Duane Brown and Andre Brown have won their appeals in the past several years, so it’s at least possible.
But if the suspension sticks, the relationship between Edelman and Guerrero is certainly going to come under more scrutiny. It’s very possible and even likely that even if Edelman took a banned substance, Guerrero had absolutely no role or awareness in providing it to the player. But when a trainer is as much of a public figure as Guerrero, and when the services of Guerrero are so often hailed as miraculous by several players, the discussion’s going to take place.
With that in mind, in order to try to paint a picture of how closely the two work together, here’s a collection of all the times Edelman and Guerrero have been mentioned together or have mentioned each other in recent years.
Edelman mentions “TB12” among those helping him rehab
Edelman is known for his hard work, so he was asked this week whether he had trouble in trying to not push himself too hard and too fast in his rehab process. His answer now looks more interesting, in light of the suspension, but his mention of the TB12 center was brief.
“Yeah, I mean, everyone’s a competitor, so sometimes you’re your own worst enemy when you’re trying to do that,” Edelman said. “But, it is what it is and there’s a big part of the process and I’ve got a lot of guys, training staff helping me out — TB12, all that stuff — to get to where I want to be.”
Edelman says he does not subscribe to the diet portion of the TB12 program
In an interview with USA Today, Edelman said that he doesn’t follow the infamous diet of Tom Brady.
“I do not do the diet,” Edelman said. “I have my own guy for that.”
That’s probably the most significant comment we’ll come across in this whole exercise. If Edelman were to have taken any PEDs, one would imagine it came on the diet/training side of the equation.
Edelman refers to Guerrero as “Mr. Miyagi”
The docuseries “Tom Vs. Time” showed just how intense a massage from Guerrero can be. And in April, Edelman praised the work of Guerrero — aka Mr. Miyagi — for a knee rub.
It must be noted here that a massage is a measure of recovery and isn’t really at all linked to diet, the intake of any substances, or physical training.
Edelman says Guerrero keeps his muscles pliable
When discussing his rehab work, Edelman told Adam Schefter that Guerrero helps keep him pliable.
“I’m at the facility from 7 to 3 o’clock, working on my knee, then I go up to the TB12 center,” Edelman said, per Boston.com. “I get that work in with Alex Guerrero to keep all my muscles pliable and try to put a stamp on letting all my muscles go dormant.”
Edelman discusses rehab work at TB12 center
In an interview with “Pardon My Take,” Edelman said his rehab work at the time involved work both with members of the Patriots staff and with the TB12 center.
“I go to TB12 Center after my rehab with the Patriots and do rehab there,” Edelman said.
Edelman lamented the pain that is endured through the rehab process but didn’t really expound upon what type of work was being done, and with whom.
Edelman did say that Guerrero has a weigh of “guilting” him to not eat things like cheese.
“With Alex, who’s the guy, there is this — I’ll feel guilty if I eat a piece of cheese,” he said, per USA Today. “He’ll be walking the cafeteria, and I’m like making a sandwich, and if I have cheese, I’ll take it off real quick. He’ll guilt you.”
Edelman says he’s a “huge advocate” of Guerrero’s methods
In an interview on WEEI, Edelman was asked about the many criticisms that surround Guerrero and his methods.
“There’s always going to be those types of things. If it helps you, then it helps you and Tom is a living proof of how that has helped his career,” Edelman said. “I am a huge advocate of it. I feel like it helps me with a lot of my stuff and I like consulting with Alex and those guys over there because I’ve seen through a lot of the rehabs that they have done and that it’s been unbelievable.”
And in a comment that in retrospect doesn’t look wonderful for Edelman, the receiver said he welcomed all doubters in his rehab process. The answer had nothing to do with Guerrero but nevertheless stands out now, in the wake of the suspension.
“Guys in the older age area or whatever trying to come back from a major injury, there are going to be haters out there and I welcome that,” he said. “I am just going to worry about what I have to do and have that relentless mindset and do what I have to do to get where I am at.”
Brady says Edelman gets “deep-force muscle work” from TB12
In an ESPN story — no, not that ESPN story — the story briefly examines how Edelman, despite embracing TB12 principles, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason.
Brady explained that Edelman “certainly gets some deep-force muscle work” from TB12, which would seem to just involve massages.
Edelman under fire for lifting weights
“Tom Vs. Time” was a rather telling undertaking for Brady, as it served as a promotional vehicle for the beliefs that he holds most dear. Considering his initials are slapped on the doors of his center and on the front page of his wellness book, the entirety of the TB12 Method is among his most important matters.
So it was no accident when the docuseries included a scene from Brady’s secluded Montana retreat, one where Edelman found himself in a bit of a friendly argument for his insistence on doing bench presses.
Here’s the entirety of the exchange in that cabin. (Kevin Brady is a friend of Tom Brady, with no relation.)
Edelman: “I do all of the things that you guys do. I just incorporate lifting weights because I have to stay strong. Because I have to.”
Tom Brady: “Let’s keep it real. The only reason why you’re trying to get jacked up is so you can go and be naked on magazines. You ain’t fooling us.”
Edelman: “Are we really … we’re done with that. That’s in the past.”
(Danny Amendola enters)
Kevin Brady: “We were just educating Julian on fast-twitch muscles and how he is neglecting to understand the core principles of what we’re trying to do to maintain our longevity as we further our playing career. But if Julian just wants to play another couple years, that’s Julian’s decision, OK?”
Edelman: “The one exercise I did yesterday was a [expletive] bench press, and I’m getting [expletive] killed about this.”
Tom Brady: “[Expletive] right! Someone needs to protect you.”
Edelman (to camera): “I’ve been hearing this for [expletive] eight years. Eight years. We’ve been in an argument for eight years.”
Amendola: “I think there has to be a medium in everything. I feel like you have to have strength, but you have to have pliability and flexibility. You have to have—“
Guerrero: “Listen, I’m not an anti-weight guy. Everyone thinks I’m anti-weights.”
Brady: “I think weights with pliability are optimal. That’s what you want.”
Guerrero: “I just think you should train for what you want to get out of your training.”
At least in this moment, Edelman’s training methods are at odds with Brady’s, while Guerrero doesn’t wholly pooh-pooh the concept of lifting weights.
Edelman says Guerrero plays “huge” role in keeping him productive
Edelman praised the work and methods espoused by Guerrero, mostly involving hydration and muscle pliability.
“I think it’s a huge part. It’s a lifestyle on how to take care of your body, what you put in your body, flushing your body with his work,” Edelman said, per WEEI. “Before and after practice, keeping your muscles pliable, keeping them hydrated; those things. All it is is knowledge and the more knowledge you get through the years, the more powerful you can get. That’s kind of the little saying: more knowledge, more power. It’s definitely helped me a lot and I look forward to continue doing it.”
Well, there is no conclusion. We’re speciously trying to connect random dots. It’s not exactly science.
However, based on all the reports and comments about Edelman’s involvement with Guerrero, it would seem as though the receiver limits his TB12 work to massages and information about hydration. Edelman stated plainly that he has his own nutritionist and doesn’t follow the strict TB12 diet, and he was seen in “Tom Vs. Time” butting heads with Brady on the concept of lifting weights.
Edelman did credit the TB12 center multiple times with being an important part of his rehab, but didn’t specify what type of work he did there. Based on the other comments, it again tends to feel like he visited TB12 for tissue massages. Specifically his December 2017 comment to Schefter about “working” on his knee with the Patriots before going to Guerrero for pliability speaks to that scenario.
Guerrero’s history with questionable substances is well-publicized, but on this matter, based on all available public information, it would seem as though he was not involved.