TAMPA — Saying it was "disappointing and frustrating,'' Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander officially withdrew his appeal and began serving his four-game suspension without pay Tuesday for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs.
Alexander, a rookie, will be eligible to rejoin the team on Jan. 4, the day after the Bucs conclude the regular season with a game at Carolina.
Alexander, a fourth-round pick from LSU who is second on the team in tackles, has said he was unaware the banned substance was in an energy drink he consumed but took responsibility for the mistake Tuesday.
"I made a mistake by putting a product in my body that I did not know was banned by the league's policy," Alexander said in a statement released by the team. "It's very disappointing and frustrating that I won't be able to be with my teammates during this important stretch of games, but I have to own up to my mistake, learn from this and ensure it doesn't happen again.
"I have decided to drop my appeal in order to move past this issue and will focus on rejoining my teammates in four weeks."
The Bucs, who are 6-6 and one game behind Seattle for the final NFC wild card, expressed support for Alexander.
"We are obviously disappointed to be losing Kwon at this point in the season," coach Lovie Smith said in a statement. "He made an error in judgement earlier this season and he has owned up to that situation.
"We educate all players regarding the league's policies on performance enhancing supplements and, while we are disappointed in this situation, we will continue to stand by Kwon and support him as best we can until he is eligible to rejoin the team following the last regular-season game."