The NFL is getting back on the field.
On Friday, the league announced that NFL Network will begin airing games that feature players suspended for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
The decision comes as Johnson’s suspension continues to grow.
Johnson will be eligible to return to the field in the first week of March.
The suspension began in February.
“NFL Network will be airing games with suspended players on Thursday, March 15 and will continue to televise games throughout the first half of the 2016 regular season, including Thursday night games,” the league said in a statement.
“The suspension does not affect the availability of the game in question.”
In his statement, Johnson called the decision to end the suspensions “incredibly disappointing.”
“I have had an extremely difficult year,” Johnson said.
“I would like to apologize to the NFL for this, and I am looking forward to getting back out on the gridiron and playing again.”
In a tweet Friday morning, the president of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, said he was “deeply disappointed” in the suspension and the way it was handled.
“Dwayne Johnson will continue on his path to being a Hall of Fame player, and the NFLPA is deeply disappointed in the way this suspension has been handled by the league,” Smith said.
In a statement Friday afternoon, the union said the suspensions were part of an effort by the NFL to protect its image and its players’ health.
“As a result of the suspension, we believe the league will begin to conduct its own independent investigation and conduct additional outreach efforts to educate fans, players, and league members on the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs,” the statement said.
The union said that “we continue to work closely with the league on this matter and remain committed to continuing our efforts to make the game safer for players, fans, and society.”
The NFLPA had not responded to a request for comment by press time.
The league has suspended six players, including Johnson.
The suspensions included six for marijuana use, six for sexual assault, five for drug violations and two for failing to report suspected drug use.
Johnson, who was suspended in March for the first four games of the regular season because of a failed drug test, had been expected to return on Friday night, but his suspension was delayed by two games.
Johnson’s case was the first of its kind to result in an NFL suspension.
In December, the NFL suspended former Seattle Seahawks defensive end Ray McDonald for one game for using marijuana while the league was investigating whether the Saints’ offensive tackle Eric Winston used performance- enhancing drugs.
McDonald was arrested after a traffic stop in Seattle, where he was stopped for allegedly driving while under the influence.
Winston was arrested in July after a domestic dispute that included a domestic violence charge.
The NFL suspended Winston for one season.
In February, former New York Jets quarterback Kurt Warner was suspended by the team for one regular season game after testing positive for marijuana.
Warner had been charged with misdemeanor domestic violence and was suspended for the 2016 season after pleading guilty to misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor endangering safety.
Warner’s suspension was later reduced to a $5,000 fine and a one-game ban.
Warner was released on the condition that he undergo counseling and take a drug test before the start of the 2017 season.
Johnson had been suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for violating league policy for his use of a performance- enhancement drug and violating the substance abuse policy by testing positive.
In May, Johnson and the Seahawks signed a three-year contract extension that was worth $42 million, including $20 million in guaranteed money, according to a report by the Seattle Times.