Gordon’s appeal could be all-or-nothing proposition


The substance-abuse policy gives full power over any disciplinary appeals to the Commissioner or his designee.  When it comes to crafting a specific punishment, however, it’s unclear how much discretion the designated hearing officer has.

For players (like Browns receiver Josh Gordon) who are in Stage III of the substance-abuse program, a player who tests positive “will be banished from the NFL for a minimum of one calendar year.”

The language is clear.  “Will” doesn’t imply discretion or the ability to impose a suspension greater than zero games and fewer than 16.

Notwithstanding the apparently clear language of the policy, some league insiders believe the hearing officer can do whatever the hearing officer wants.  We’ve asked the league whether that’s accurate.

A negotiated resolution of less than 16 games is permitted.  The question is whether, absent a settlement, the hearing officer can conclude that Gordon violated the policy based on unique facts and a stringent threshold and suspend him for something less than 365 days.

Either way, the hearing officer’s decision is final, with only limited windows for challenging the suspension through the court system.

44 responses to “Gordon’s appeal could be all-or-nothing proposition

  1. This is the type of thing players in sub par cities do. CLE, BUF, CIN for example. I have been saying for years that a team like this or BUF will be moving to sunny Los Angeles, and now, it’s good to see my prediction coming true. The Bills will be moving to LA just as we all knew, and finally they’ll get to play for a city that actually cares about them. LA is the best city in the world because our citizens are just better and have more class.

  2. its pretty easy. Don’t break the law multiple times in a row. Once is one thing. 4 times is another.

    Second-hand smoke? Lmao please, try that 6th grade nonsense again. Can’t wait to hear Browns fans try to play forum trial lawyer and start justifying his repeated foulups

  3. The problem for Gordon is that while he was waiting for this appeal to be heard, he has been stopped by police twice – once for DUI and once for pot in the car. The kid needs professional help and counseling that he seeks willingly and voluntarily to get straightened out before he throws his life away, let alone his football career.

  4. NFL: Hey Josh Gordan, here’s millions of dollars. You can make millions more if you aren’t an idiot.

    Josh Gordon: What was that? I can’t pick out the stems and seeds and listen at the same time.

  5. Throw the book at him. The evils of Marijuana are destroying the fabric of this country…You can’t become President if you have ever smoked a joint!

  6. He eyes look blazed in that picture. Let him and Johnny smoke together! Who cares! Its just football

  7. Common sense should prevail considering how low 15ng/ml is compared to the IOC level of 150 ng/ml. Not just that, how the NFL earlier this offseason tried to manipulate the NFLPA, “Agree to our HGH testing as is with Roger Goodell as the JJE and we’ll raise the testing level to 150 ng/ml. That is what all of that talk was earlier this spring.

    Sadly, in this world, common sense does not often prevail.

    Punishers scream, “But it’s the law. We must follow the law or there’ll be anarchy. ANARCHY!!!” With the Genarlow Wilson case back in 2005, common sense said that the sentence was both unnecessary and far too harsh, but they implemented it anyway because, “It’s the law. We have to follow the law. If we don’t there’ll be anarchy. ANARCHY!!!

    Just a damned shame. Common sense says the NFL standards are too low, and I know Gordon is thinking, “Hell, if I’m gonna be punished by it I should have actually did wha they said I did.”

  8. if he gets off then d wash should to. dbl standard. he should get at least a full year.

  9. According to the NFL Josh you should have knocked your girlfriend out instead of smoking weed. You would have only gotten 2 games instead of 16 games. Makes sense right? Yeah makes no sense to me either

  10. Why would the hearing officer be lenient in this case? Gordon has gotten himself arrested twice since this hearing was announced, once for the same thing he’s being suspended for by the league. How has he shown that this is an isolated incident and given the officer any sign that he’s a changed man? Hit him with the year and let him straighten his life out before it gets worse and he winds up Donte Stallworth-ing someone

  11. Flawed test. Bottle B wasn’t even over limit. Nice testing procedures NFL. Also nice limit too. OLYMPIC limit is 175 and yours is 15 lol. Goodell and NFL policies are idiotic

  12. Good thing the league isn’t run the Browns organization. Gordon continues to rack up suspensions and arrests and still they don’t cut him. The Ravens aren’t much better, but at least they win.

  13. Let’s be real about this, if he isn’t suspended now, he most likely will be in the future. Wouldn’t this be the year to just sit it out? The Browns with be doing the QB Hokie-Pokie unless Hoyer turns in a full season like the start of last year. When all is said and done, you have to question the terms to which he is being suspended, but the fact that he ran into trouble isn’t a surprise to anyone.

  14. I don’t understand a policy that punishes people for using an ostensibly benign substance as opposed to powerful narcotics. If Goodell is so hellbent on being judge, jury and executioner there’s little wonder why the NFLPA has refused to implement the PED testing which would allow Goodell to be the sole arbiter of a false positive.

  15. Hopefully De Smith or any of the other buffoons from the NFLPA aren’t in the hearing room. Gordon will be banished to Siberia and forced to work in the salt mines.

    Has De Smith or NFLPA ever prevailed against the “Great Goodell.” Nope.

    On the other hand, De had the sense not to say anything about Ray Rice. It would have taken a week for George Atallah to pry De’s foot of his mouth.

  16. The guy is an idiot for sure, but suspending him an entire year because he smokes grass is simply absurd. The NFL and NFLPA need to address this that so the punishment fits the “crime.”

  17. I don’t think players should be suspended for pot, especially since it’s legal in two of the states with NFL teams.

    One the other hand, a player in Stage III testing who has ANY trace of a banned substance, is a moron.

  18. @ thesteelfox “Where is the outcry for Justin Blackmon’s suspension?”

    There is a difference in someone who smokes and one that doesn’t. Gordon appears, if the low 16 & 13.6 tests show, to not be smoking, but being in the presence of smoke, whereas Blackmon wasn’t anywhere close to the limit when he popped.

    There will be more outrage for a guy who failed the test by .01 than for the guy who scored a zero. One tried, and one didn’t.

  19. Let’s all just keep blaming Goodell for this, even though the drug policies, including the who sample A&B thing, was clearly spelled out in the agreement signed by the players.

  20. reconl63 says:Jul 30, 2014 2:44 PM

    This is the type of thing players in sub par cities do. CLE, BUF, CIN for example. I have been saying for years that a team like this or BUF will be moving to sunny Los Angeles, and now, it’s good to see my prediction coming true. The Bills will be moving to LA just as we all knew, and finally they’ll get to play for a city that actually cares about them. LA is the best city in the world because our citizens are just better and have more class.

    LA is all gangs and drugs. It is NOT the best city..

  21. I think the other 2 arrests will have a pretty good affect on this hearing. While it might seem they are a separate issue, they are asking the officer to make a judgment call, and I think human nature will prevent him from ignoring them.

  22. It is only assumed he is in stage III. The NFL is very hush hush about this. Noone has ever come out and said “JG is in stage III” Did he enter the league in stage I? Nobody really knows.

  23. I hate the knee-jerk, Dr.Phil “he just needs help” nonsense that I am hearing from a lot of people. He passed 70 drug tests in a row and the one he flunked, he passed the control test. Maybe he had a hit of a joint? What a monster! He also blew a .09 at 3am. How many reckless alcoholics can limit themselves to just a few beers in the course of an evening?

    I know it is hard to process, but he is just that dumb.

  24. I’m curious about this A/B sample issue. In the NFL, seems like it’s a “fail one sample, you’re done” kind of thing. What’s the point of the B sample then? Seems to me that if one sample is positive, whether it’s close or not, that the B sample is then tested to see if there’s a discrepancy. If there is, then seems like there should be another sample taken by the player. Am I thinking too logically about this or am I missing something?

  25. No way they let him off with any less. They looked bad in the ray rice deal.

    They are going to run drug abuse hard. Plus don’t forget his DUI.

    The fact anyone from Cleveland is counting on this guy is amazing. You can not count on guys who can’t even manage their own lives.

  26. so this kid’s an idiot for having a minute amount of marijuana in his system…but you’re fine with the team doctor shooting him up with every narcotic known to man…to “keep him on the field”…well then you’re right…someone is an idiot

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