The pending suspension of cornerback Joe Haden has caused many fans to believe that his removal from play is impending.
The truth is we don’t know when the suspension will be implemented. Or whether it will be overturned on appeal.
We explained the nuts and bolts during Tuesday’s debut episode of Pro Football Talk, but after seeing a tweet this morning from Silva with a link to a Rotoworld item that linked to an item in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, it seemed to make sense to explain it all right here.
No suspension is served until the internal appeal process concludes. Plenty of suspensions are reduced or completely abandoned via the appeal process. But we never know about them because the confidentiality process has been fully and completely honored.
In this case, it wasn’t. While the initial report from ESPN Cleveland may have come from the fact that Haden told one or more teammates about it, the fact that team president Mike Holmgren acknowledged the fact that an appeal is pending technically constitutes a breach of the strict confidentiality provision of the league’s policy regarding anabolic steroids and related substances. (The policy states that the penalty consists of up to $500,000 in fines.)
Speaking more generally regarding the reality that, if a player is at practice on Wednesday, he hasn’t been suspended for the following Sunday, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello explained that there’s no hard deadline for the resolution of any case.
“[T]here is no specific timetable requirement,” Aiello told the Plain Dealer. “Each case is unique.”
That said, there are requirements in the league’s internal policies regarding the resolution of an appeal after a hearing has been conducted. If, in Haden’s case, the appeal hearing has occurred, the ruling could come at any time.
For now, though, Haden will continue to be available to practice and play.