Castillo's 2005 Patriots visit overshadowed by steroids

Castillo's 2005 Patriots visit overshadowed by steroids
March 19, 2012, 8:07 pm
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Luis Castillo visited New England once before.

Seth Wickersham chronicled the story, called "Full Disclosure," of the defensive end's dramatic start in the NFL.

Castillo first traveled to Foxborough April 7, 2005. The Northwestern product had impressed the hell out of scouts -- from the physical to the personal -- at the NFL Combine that February. The good impressions continued in New England and after two days of interviews, Castillo was considered "smart and hardworking -- a perfect Patriot."

The next day he got a phone call from his mother. She had gotten a letter from the NFL, something about steroids.

He tested positive.

The substance was androstenedione, a steroid banned by the NFL. Castillo suffered a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament his sophomore year and aggravated the injury as a senior. Androstenedione, he later said, was a deal with the devil, a desperate attempt to expedite his rehab before the Draft and save his future.

"It was one time. I panicked. I got scared," Castillo told his agent, Mike McCartney. "I was just trying to get back to the person I was. I wasn't trying to gain an edge, I swear."

He turned the contrition into a letter.

Castillo confessed to juicing and explained why he did it. That note, combined with clean drug tests taken at Northwestern, were sent to every GM in the league.

The Chargers selected Castillo at Number 28 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft.

It's said his San Diego teammates never bothered him about the incident. Some of his opponents, like Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel, were less forgiving.

"He cheated the system and got away with it," Vrabel said.

Castillo's body has enforced the only punishment. He's played a full 16-game season just twice (2005, 2010) in his seven-year career. Last season he lost 15 games to a broken left tibia in Week 1.

Will he get a second chance now to be a "perfect Patriot"? Maybe as a classic Bill Belichick value pick. Much has changed since that first visit -- New England needs to know it's for the better.