After coming out of retirement and joining the New England Patriots this past spring, NFL tight end Benjamin Watson was released by the team Monday.
Watson, 38, announced the news in a statement on Twitter: “I gave my all, but it was not enough to earn a spot on the Patriots’ roster.”
“I’m beyond disappointed but even more upset for my family who has supported me with all the love a husband and father could ask for,” the father of five added. “They are my heroes.”
“The God of victory is also a God in failure,” he added, ending his statement with a reference to Romans 8:28, which reads, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
One fan weighed in, tweeting, “You have always been more than an athlete big bro, find your true calling and teach the people.”
Faithwire managing editor Dan Andros also encouraged the tight end, tweeting: “On the bright side, we all get to hear from you more (hopefully) and your voice is so needed today! Praying for what’s next…”
New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady both weighed in on the decision to release Watson.
“We only have so many roster spots, so if we put somebody on we have to take somebody off,” Head Coach Bill Belichick said Monday on the Ordway, Merloni & Fauria radio show. “Right now there wasn’t a roster spot.”
Quarterback Tom Brady spoke about the release on Tuesday, saying he would miss playing with Watson.
“Pretty tough,” he said. “A lot of guys I have played with, I have played with a lot of guys over the years and Ben is a great player. He has been a great player for this team, other teams. He has had an incredible career. Hopefully, he can keep playing. I know he was looking forward to playing.”
Brady emphasized that not only is Watson a great player, but a great man, someone of the “highest integrity.”
“I’ll miss him,” he added. “He was right next to me. For as great of a player he was, he was 10 times a better person. Just the highest integrity. I can’t say enough good things about Ben and what he’s meant to me and my family, our team. We’re going to miss him.”
Last December, Watson announced he would be retiring from football, as his wife, Kirsten, was expecting twins, and he wanted to be more present.
But only months later, he felt like God was calling him back to the field, so after being approached by the New England Patriots, he decided to come out of retirement for one last season.
After he was reinstated into the NFL he had to undergo the basic drug testing panels, to which he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Following his retirement, the tight end had been prescribed “Bio-Identical Testosterone Cypionate,” which helps ex-players speed up their body’s recovery. Ultimately, Watson was still given a four-game suspension because of league rules.
“Yes, I’d rather this never happened,” Watson wrote for The Increase, “and I’m dreading the weeks I’ll have to sit out, but I can see God’s redemption of all situations and I’m thankful for the chance to be transparent, especially in my own home. When my kids look back on this, I hope they will have learned something about strength of character from their father. I hope that others can see my motive to honor Christ through my words and actions. Even though I’m far from perfect, I aim to represent Christ in every opportunity I’m given.”
As for Watson’s future in the NFL, it remains uncertain.
Ian Rapoport, NFL insider for the NFL Network, tweeted Monday that Watson “does want to keep playing, I’m told. So retirement gets pushed off [again] as he looks for a new home.”
Although there are still many unknowns, one thing is for sure: there will be a lot of prayer and petition going into his next decision.
“There have been some times in my life when I’ve been really consistent and faithful in prayer, and a lot of times when I haven’t,” he wrote in a June article for The Increase. “When I look back and see the times I’ve made this a priority — both corporate prayer, prayer with my wife and family, and personal prayer — it’s never been a bad thing. There has never been a time when I’ve thought, ‘Man, I could have been doing something else with that time.’ Never!”