With the Josh Gordon appeal hearing set for Friday and with Gordon hiring (as Adam Schefter reported last night) the same lawyer who helped Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman avoid a four-game suspension for violation of the PED policy in 2012, Gordon presumably has a case that holds more water than the average bong.
Gordon possibly does, especially if the same spirit of lenience that helped Ray Rice receive a suspension of only two games for knocking out his fiancée applies in any way to Gordon.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Gordon landed in Stage III of the program last year as part of a negotiated two-game suspension for the use of cough syrup that contained codeine. Once in Stage III, a player never leaves. And he must pass up to 10 drug tests per month.
According to the source, Gordon has passed at least 70 drug tests. One test barely generated a positive. And but for the 50-50 luck of the draw, it would have been a negative.
Urine samples routinely are split into two bottles, the “A” bottle and the “B” bottle. If the “A” bottle generates a positive result, the “B” bottle is tested. Amazingly, the “B” bottle doesn’t have to independently show a violation. Instead, the substance abuse policy states that the “‘B’ bottle Test need only show that the substance, revealed in the ‘A’ bottle Test, is evident to the ‘limits of detection’ to confirm the results of the ‘A’ bottle Test.”
In English, close counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and “B” bottles.
For Gordon, the “A” bottle showed a concentration of 16 ng/ml, only one nanogram per milliliter above the limits of 15. The “B” bottle showed a concentration of 13.6 ng/ml — less than the threshold.
But because the “A” bottle was labeled “A” and not “B” and because the “B” bottle was labeled “B” and not “A”, the end result is a positive and a minimum one-year banishment from the NFL. Flip the bottles when it’s time to apply the labels, and Gordon isn’t facing a suspension.
Setting aside (for now) my lingering concerns about the NFL policing the use of marijuana by players, the Draconian provisions of a program that subjects a player to up to 10 tests per month and will remove a Stage III player from the workforce for at least a full year if he failed a single test over the balance of his career, and the NFL’s apparent unwillingness to subject Colts owner Jim Irsay to this same testing protocol and standard, Josh Gordon will be treated extremely unfairly if the policy is strictly applied to him as it is written.
All because the bottle that tested at 16 ng/ml was labeled with an “A and the bottle that tested at 13.6 ng/ml was labeled with a “B”.
The NFL clearly got it wrong with Ray Rice. The NFL has a chance to get it right with Josh Gordon.