Five days ago, the NFL suspended Browns receiver Josh Gordon for the entire 2014 season. Within the next day or two, a decision will be made regarding whether Gordon will challenge the suspension via the court system.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Gordon’s legal team plans to reach a conclusion in the immediate future. If suit is filed, expect it to come swiftly — and to include a motion for what the law calls a preliminary injunction.
Identical to the move that blocked the StarCaps suspensions for months even though the players ultimately failed to secure a court order overturning the outcome of the internal appeal, Gordon would ask a judge to prevent the NFL from implementing the suspension until the case ends.
If it happens, it will be a tall order. Courts routinely consider various factors when deciding whether to freeze the status quo in place until a lawsuit ends. Key considerations include a showing that the player will suffer irreparable harm if he later wins the case, since he can’t go back and play the games he missed, along proof that the player has a strong likelihood of eventually securing a victory.
It won’t be easy for Gordon, unless his legal team finds an obscure Ohio law that the NFL’s substance-abuse policy and testing program violates. Still, even if there’s a slim chance of Gordon delaying the suspension via the court system, not spinning the Wheel of Wapner guarantees a Blutarskiesque outcome.
Then again, suing could make it harder to persuade the NFL to move quickly and favorably when Gordon applies for reinstatement. That’s a real consider for Gordon; with plenty of discretion available when the time comes to determine whether he’s cleared to return early in the 2015 offseason, angering the league could delay a green light.