It now seems that the NFL is simply messing with receiver Josh Gordon and the Browns.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that a decision on Gordon’s appeal won’t come until late next week. The hearing ended 10 days ago, on August 4.
Schefter attributed the delay to the lengthy hearing, which resulted in extra time being needed to transcribe the hearing. Which is, quite frankly, a load of crap.
I’m not saying Schefter is full of crap. I’m saying whoever told him that is.
Transcripts can be prepared very quickly, almost instantaneously. In this case, the testimony began on Friday, August 1, with the hearing running from 9:30 a.m. ET until 7:00 p.m. ET. The process of preparing the written transcript could have — and should have — begun immediately. The second day of testimony, which lasted roughly three hours on Monday, August 4, likewise could have been turned around quickly on Monday night.
Modern stenograph machines can digitally translate the configurations of letters into words, permitting a tentative transcript to be instantly generated. A draft could have been given to hearing officer Harold Henderson while the court reporter proofread the transcript and/or compared the written product to the audio tapes of the testimony. Key portions of the testimony (and five percent at most of any testimony is crucial to the outcome of a case) could have been clarified specifically for Henderson, if he had questions about whether a “yes” was really a “no” or some other important word was something other than what the transcript suggests.
Regardless, it’s goofy to think that Henderson couldn’t have had a complete, tentative transcript by Tuesday, August 5, the day after the hearing concluded. Especially in a case where Gordon faces not a 16-game suspension but a full year. Three hundred and sixty-five days. The sooner it starts, the sooner it ends, the sooner the Browns get Gordon back.
And while Henderson surely will be issuing a lengthy, written opinion, he can issue the decision at any time, with the understanding that the written opinion will follow. Surely, Henderson knew at or about the time the hearing ended on August 4 what he planned to do.
It’s already shameful, as explained on Thursday’s PFT Live, that the NFL doesn’t generally expedite the appeals process. Players and their teams need to know the ultimate status of a potentially suspended player, especially when that suspension would, if upheld, last for a full year.
Instead, Gordon learned of his proposed suspension in early May at the latest, and yet his hearing didn’t begin until August 1. It’s now August 14, and a decision could still be a week away.
Which means that, if the suspension is upheld, Gordon will be gone until late August 2015, making it even harder for him to get ready for Week One.
Whether suspended or not, the NFL needs to speed things up dramatically. The NFLPA needs to insist on it, with firm deadlines for conducting appeal hearings and, under the substance-abuse policy, something other than the vague and open-ended requirement of a decision with a “reasonable time.”