Last season, receiver John Gordon emerged as one of the best receivers in the NFL. Now, he may not be playing in the NFL for all of the 2014 season — or ever again.
If the ESPN report of another violation of the substance-abuse policy is true (and if it’s not Gordon’s lawyers should be drawing up the civil complaint at this moment), there’s no way the Browns didn’t know about the situation during the first round.
Apart from the multiple reports indicating the Browns knew, common sense and the normal unfolding of the process shows they had to know. As a league source has explained it to PFT, the player initially gets notice that a portion of the sample tested positive. He then receives the opportunity to have the rest of the sample (the so-called “B” bottle) tested. Inevitably, the player exercises that right.
So then, if the “B” bottle test generates another positive, the player receives notice from Commissioner Roger Goodell of the confirmed violation. Given Gordon’s history (he was suspended two games last year under the substance-abuse policy), the letter from Goodell would indicate that Gordon faces a suspension.
The ESPN report indicates that the letter came from Goodell to Gordon in late April. The team and the NFLPA get the same letter.
So the Browns absolutely, positively knew. And they surely suspected, given that Gordon had enough violations in the first year of his career to be suspended for the first two games of his second season, that this day was coming.
The most troubling aspect of this development, if the ESPN report is accurate, comes from the notion that Gordon has known the stakes of avoiding a positive test — and that he nevertheless failed to choose football over marijuana. If the suspension sticks (and he has appeal rights), he’ll have to choose football over marijuana on a daily basis despite potentially being kicked out of football for 365 days.