With Josh Gordon, Aldon Smith, and Jim Irsay now suspended, there’s only one name left on the league’s suspension docket.
But it’s not really a suspension; for unretired Cowboys defensive lineman Josh Brent, the Commissioner has not yet ruled on his request for reinstatement.
So what is he waiting for? Practice begins in earnest (and in Valley Ranch) on Wednesday for Week One. Not reinstating Brent before then operates as a de facto suspension of at least one week.
Unlike a suspension, for which Brent would have appeal rights, there’s nothing Brent can do about it, other than wait for the Commissioner to decide that Brent should return.
Regardless of whether Brent deserves to be kept away from making a living in the NFL for longer than the 20 games he has missed since causing the death of teammate and close friend Jerry Brown while driving drunk, the failure to render a decision removes a portion of the incentive for future players to choose to retire in the face of a potentially awkward showdown for the NFL. Brent could have insisted on coming to work in 2013 while awaiting trial, citing the presumption of innocence and the absence of CBA language that would have allowed the NFL to ensure that his appeal would be resolved before the start of the regular season. If his appeal had moved like Josh Gordon’s, Brent could have played most if not all of the season, especially since his trial didn’t start until January.
He could have played all of 2013 under the cloud of a suspension, absorbed a one-year suspension after his conviction, and returned to football in 2015. As it now stands, he’ll miss more games than if he’d held firm and played in 2013.