In the days leading up to the Patriots' January 2004 playoff game against the Titans, New England's star safety Rodney Harrison was ordering drugs from a Florida wellness clinic that would later become a target of the Albany County district attorney.
According to law enforcement sources, Harrison requested an order by phone and was issued a phony prescription, signed by a doctor, for what was discovered to be human growth hormone, the Albany Times Union reported in Wednesday's editions.
It was reportedly the first shipment of HGH sent to Harrison, who had a standout postseason that year for the Patriots. New England went on to win Super Bowl XXXVIII in February over the Carolina Panthers.
The NFL suspended Harrison for the first four games of the regular season for violating its substance-abuse policy. Harrison, 34, is not being paid during his suspension. He will be eligible to return to the Patriots' active roster following the team's Oct. 1 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Harrison admitted that he has taken HGH but said he has never taken steroids.
"I want to make it clear," Harrison said before the season began, "that never once did I take steroids. I did admit to the commissioner that I took a banned substance."
The Boston Globe, citing law enforcement officials, reported in August that Harrison made no effort to disguise his name or address when he purchased HGH over the Internet.
According to The Globe's report, prosecutors said Harrison, who met with investigators for the Albany D.A.'s office late last month in Foxborough, Mass., acknowledged he bought HGH "more than once" online last year with an illegal prescription provided by a doctor associated with the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center. Harrison said he sought the prescription to help him recover faster from shoulder and knee injuries.
Harrison is not facing any criminal charges in the case.