OXNARD, Calif. — Ronald Jones will be sidelined for the first two games of the 2023 season, he and the Dallas Cowboys discovering on Monday that the veteran running back has been suspended by the NFL due to violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
It's the first suspension for Jones in his six-year career and, on Tuesday, the 25-year-old addressed the punishment.
"I just want to clear my name," said Jones, who is experiencing a homecoming to Texas in signing with the Cowboys. "Everybody wants to say I'm on steroids and, clearly, I'm not. I'm one of the skinniest dudes on the team and in the league."
Jones went on to explain that the substance in question was a "heart stimulant" he'd long been prescribed by a licensed physician, and that the suspension caught him off-guard.
"It's something I've been prescribed over the course of my career," said Jones. "It wasn't any steroid or anything to enhance my game. It was medicine prescribed by a doctor that I wasn't aware of. The tests came back and I'm responsible for what I put in my body.
"Just gotta make sure it's not gonna happen again."
The battle at the running back position will inevitably feel the waves from Jones' punishment, as newcomers Deuce Vaughn and Hunter Luepke hope to carve out a role, but in direct competition with returning talent in Rico Dowdle and Malik Davis.
For Jones, the entire incident is unfortunate, but he's attempting to remain focused on the task at-hand; although that task is now made more difficult by his guaranteed unavailability in September against the two teams from New York.
"You just gotta block out the noise," said Jones. "People are gonna say what they want, but I've never cheated the game of football. I've played this game for free for years and years, so to be here now and have them say that about me — it hurts but I'm responsible for my medicine and what I was taking."
Jones, clearly frustrated with the league's decision and unwillingness to look more deeply into the matter, detailed how things got to this point.
"It is disappointing," he said. "It was before I signed here. It happened last season. I'm just confused how it came about, but I just wanted to clear my name.
"I'm not cheating the game of football. It's literally a prescription medicine. I asked for a retest [including] a sample of my blood. They didn't want to look at it. I think there needs to be more protection for players because if you're having health issues, I mean, we're human beings outside of football.
"We have real life issues, too. My family suffers from heart disease and things like that."
The mission ahead is to simply refocus and show his value ahead of September to help ensure he remains in the picture for the regular season.
"I'm still gonna be out here working, through preseason and training camp," he said. "Just put my best foot forward and try to move on from this."