If Browns receiver Josh Gordon had submitted a diluted sample in connection with a drug test imposed after his current suspension ended, he would have been subject to another suspension for at least one year. Now that he has submitted a diluted sample while still suspended, the NFL reportedly wants to see if he can make it 2-3 more months without another failed test.
The position makes no sense (with all due respect), given the realities of the substance abuse policy. Technically banished for life with the ability to be reinstated after one year, Gordon already has exhausted his last chance. Since a player who returns from a one-year suspension remains in Stage 3 of the program for at least 24 months, Gordon would be, if reinstated, one false move away from yet another banishment.
So why not reinstate him with the understanding that another positive means another suspension for a minimum of one year? Since that standard will apply if/when he’s reinstated, this approach provides an even greater incentive than keeping him away from his team for the balance of the offseason program in the hopes that he’ll manage to stay clean while left to his own devices.
It’s almost as if the NFL recognizes the heavy-handed nature of its commitment to keeping seasonal employees from smoking marijuana or drinking alcohol when on their own time, and that the league is actually trying to cut Gordon a break. So why would the league do that?
At a time when capable players are choosing not to play football, causing some to predict that more and more will do the same, maybe the NFL is beginning to realize that its habit of telling players what they can and can’t do on their own time is keeping multiple ready, willing, and able star players from setting foot on the field.
Right now, suspended receivers like Gordon, Justin Blackmon, and Martavis Bryant aren’t available to play, and they want to play. With Calvin Johnson choosing not to play, wouldn’t it make much more sense for the NFL to find a way to get Gordon, Blackmon, and Bryant on the field?