The good news for the Browns and Josh Gordon is that hearing officer Harold Henderson ultimately didn’t apply the substance-abuse policy as written regarding the duration of Gordon’s suspension. The bad news is that Gordon will still miss the full season.
But Gordon may be reinstated before August 27, 2015, which would mean that the supposedly mandatory one-year suspension contained in the policy won’t be enforced in this case.
While it does nothing to help Gordon or the Browns in 2014, it means that he could be back with the team in time to better prepare for 2015. If the policy had been applied as written, Gordon would not have been back until August 27, 2015.
Of course, Gordon must stay clean over the next several months and beyond, passing up to 10 drug tests per month. If he fails before he’s reinstated, he may not be reinstated. If he fails after, he’ll face another lengthy suspension.