NFL needs to issue a ruling in the Josh Gordon case

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It now seems that the NFL is simply messing with receiver Josh Gordon and the Browns.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that a decision on Gordon’s appeal won’t come until late next week.  The hearing ended 10 days ago, on August 4.

Schefter attributed the delay to the lengthy hearing, which resulted in extra time being needed to transcribe the hearing.  Which is, quite frankly, a load of crap.

I’m not saying Schefter is full of crap.  I’m saying whoever told him that is.

Transcripts can be prepared very quickly, almost instantaneously.  In this case, the testimony began on Friday, August 1, with the hearing running from 9:30 a.m. ET until 7:00 p.m. ET.  The process of preparing the written transcript could have — and should have — begun immediately.  The second day of testimony, which lasted roughly three hours on Monday, August 4, likewise could have been turned around quickly on Monday night.

Modern stenograph machines can digitally translate the configurations of letters into words, permitting a tentative transcript to be instantly generated.  A draft could have been given to hearing officer Harold Henderson while the court reporter proofread the transcript and/or compared the written product to the audio tapes of the testimony.  Key portions of the testimony (and five percent at most of any testimony is crucial to the outcome of a case) could have been clarified specifically for Henderson, if he had questions about whether a “yes” was really a “no” or some other important word was something other than what the transcript suggests.

Regardless, it’s goofy to think that Henderson couldn’t have had a complete, tentative transcript by Tuesday, August 5, the day after the hearing concluded.  Especially in a case where Gordon faces not a 16-game suspension but a full year.  Three hundred and sixty-five days.  The sooner it starts, the sooner it ends, the sooner the Browns get Gordon back.

And while Henderson surely will be issuing a lengthy, written opinion, he can issue the decision at any time, with the understanding that the written opinion will follow.  Surely, Henderson knew at or about the time the hearing ended on August 4 what he planned to do.

It’s already shameful, as explained on Thursday’s PFT Live, that the NFL doesn’t generally expedite the appeals process.  Players and their teams need to know the ultimate status of a potentially suspended player, especially when that suspension would, if upheld, last for a full year.

Instead, Gordon learned of his proposed suspension in early May at the latest, and yet his hearing didn’t begin until August 1.  It’s now August 14, and a decision could still be a week away.

Which means that, if the suspension is upheld, Gordon will be gone until late August 2015, making it even harder for him to get ready for Week One.

Whether suspended or not, the NFL needs to speed things up dramatically.  The NFLPA needs to insist on it, with firm deadlines for conducting appeal hearings and, under the substance-abuse policy, something other than the vague and open-ended requirement of a decision with a “reasonable time.”

127 responses to “NFL needs to issue a ruling in the Josh Gordon case

  1. You nailed it. That explanation was a total load of crap. Question is, what does the delay in judgment mean?

  2. The NFL is too busy thinking of more ways to change the game we all love and ways to relocate a team to Europe. They don’t have time to give a ruling on Josh Gordon.

    My guess is they really know they have no concrete evidence in this case but are trying their best to come up with reasons to justify a year ban and not have it backfire on them as in the Ray Rice decision.

  3. Why not just make an actual chart or graph that explains every punishment for every indiscretion committed. If something abnormal comes up, improvise using a joint council of the players union, someone from goodell’s office, and a player’s representative. That way there would at least be some consistency.

  4. Litigants in the every day world often have to wait months for appellate decisions. And these are decisions that may affect their property or liberty. But a professional football player having to wait a few weeks for a decision? That’s unacceptable.

  5. The NFL is also screwing with the Browns for next year too. Assuming Gordon is out for the full year, he cant resume team activities or have contact with the team for one full year. At this point the punishment would carry over into next season too.

  6. Maybe Henderson really is contemplating not suspending Josh Gordon, at least not for a whole year. I feel like the decision would have been announced already if Gordon were suspended a full year.

  7. Goodell is just waiting for the ray rice debacle to die down or disappear before suspending gordon, that way the backlash won’t be as strong.

  8. An utterly masterful rebuke of the NFL’s utterly ridiculous excuse. No doubt some of the best writing I have seen on this site, and I am not being facetious.

    It also further drives home what drives me absolutely crazy about the state of what passes for “journalism” from the “insiders” like Schefter and his ilk.

    Even if Schefter had none of the knowledge of the transcription process that you do, it is still beyond comprehension that he would not have asked the obvious follow up- It really takes that long to transcribe hearing testimony?

    These guys take every word that they are spoon-fed as gospel. That’s why they are wrong more than they are right. How they maintain any credibility at all is beyond me.

  9. If Gordon is suspended all year, the Browns should bench Manziel for the year & bring him along slowly just for payback to hurt the television ratings. Let Manziel play when Gordon returns next year.

  10. Lets get a Josh Brent and Aldon Smith ruling as well while they’re at it.

    It’s likely the decision was made before the meetings, so why delay, fine and ban them today, to keep the drugs away, maybe eat some hay and lay by the bay, i just may, what do you say?

  11. NFL is waiting to try and pass a harsher penalty for domestic violence. This will allow them to justify suspending Gordon for entire year.

  12. Frankly, I think the guy made up his mind at the conclusion of the hearing(s). This delay is just for appearances and is, as you suggest, embarrassing (or should be) for the NFL. Of course, I’m not sure how much more embarrassed they could or should be after the ludicrous Ray Rice joke of a 2 game suspension for violently assaulting his then-fiancee (now wife). Goodell is just becoming more and more of a joke as time passes. Hopefully the owners will start looking for a replacement for him soon.

  13. Careful what you ask for!

    I hope I’m wrong, but my theory is they’ve already decided to ban him for the full year. They’re dragging their feet to make absolutely sure there’s no legal avenues of attack by Joshy.

    What in the hell else could be taking them so long?

  14. Delay it as long as they can… So he is suspended until next years preseason games are almost wrapped up… Make a statement .

  15. NFL has officially gone into zone of not only screwing Browns by delaying judgment but fantasy football owners as drafts begin.

  16. Depends if the hearings are like a courtroom. If it is, and has a stenographer, the time lapse and excuse is unacceptable.

    But it’s also possible they didn’t have a stenographer or transcriber and had a minute taker. If that’s the case it could absolutely take upwards of a week to transcribe the notes into a written set of minutes.

    Transcribers, minute takers and stenographers are not the same thing…

  17. 8 is to high for the 2nd best receiving act in the NFL. Fans want to see him. It lowers the quality of the NFL product for him to miss a year! They will get this one right!

  18. The NFL is purposely delaying this in an effort ot punish Josh Gordon and the Browns for daring to challenge their drug policy.

  19. I’ve been saying all along..1-2 games max. Anything longer and Gordon files suit in cuyahoga county to get an injunction. Just like in the starcaps case. The Williams’s played the whole time that two year case proceeded. They could be waiting on a plea in the DUI case which most likely will be plead down to a reckless op so its irrelevant. I could see Gordon agreeing to 1, 2 games max but if he has to go to court he will win. The federal court of appeals already held this in the starcaps case: Ohio law will apply instead of the CBA and Gordon did not fail a test under Ohio law

  20. If he gets suspended for a year, they screw him even more playing this waiting game on him. He would have to miss all offseason, training camp, and the first two preseason games next year. He wouldn’t even be allowed in with the team until the third preseason game. That’s ridiculous. Just suspend him a few games or nothing. The standards for the NFLs marijuana tests are so strict compared to other tests. If you’re participating in the Olympics you can have up to 175 ng/mL and pass. For a pilot you can have 50 ng/mL. While the NFL is……15 ng/mL. That’s right, someone could technically fly a commercial airliner but not catch a pass in the NFL. Speed up the process already.


  21. I can see them giving four games. People want him on their fantasy football team which increases ratings for browns games which means more money for the NFL. Media will just use the ray rice incident to rationalize why they are giving him light punishment but if he messes this up he’ll be banned forever

  22. Good article, well written. I think the NFL’s slow movement is a bit of a tell as to the strength of their case. With the mishandling of the concussion lawsuit and bounty gate they may be a bit gun shy. With this much of a time lapse it would be egregious to suspend him for a full year. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Gordon will be back for week 9. And if not, maybe he sues the NFL…he would have a decent case.

  23. Even if the suspension is fully upheld they need to modify his suspension to 16 games not a full year. Let the man get back to work and in an environment that will help him from being tempted in Feb 15′. Don’t kill 2 seasons since this was dragged out so long.

  24. As Dan Patrick stated on his radio show the other day, the NBA has (i) confiscated the Los Angeles Clippers from Donald Sterling (ii) taken 3rd party bids for purchase of the team and (iii) sold the team to Steven Ballmer; ALL in between the news of Gordon allegedly failing a test and the NFL’s resolution.

    I don’t know what’s taking so long but as I first suspected, I think this story must be ridiculously complicated. More than about which the public has any idea.

  25. Or, Josh just own up to his suspension that he rightly earned in accordance with the CBA and he would have been done in May of 2015. Look at all the time he wasted…

  26. They’re just creating a larger time-gap from the Ray Rice suspension.. The more time that passes, the less heat they get related to that

  27. Slimy owners trying to squeeze a settlement out of Gordon because they know they’re in a catch 22 with the light rice suspension haunting them. I hope Gordon’s attorney is savvy enough to force an all or nothing because there’s no way the NFL will give him a year. Check and mate goodell.

  28. This drug test happened in December. It’s now the middle of August. No excuse for this.

  29. The delay is a joke – like the NFL’s entire Goodell-driven disciplinary system/disfunction. There are really only two logical possible outcomes. 1) An indefinite ban because… Rodger is never wrong/willing to admit he’s ever wrong; or 2) no suspension because it’s obviously insanely unjust. Any 8-game suspension ruling (unless agreed to by Gordon) is nothing more than “guilty with a reasonable doubt.”

  30. With respect, you’re wrong. If you want a decision now, the decision will be a one-year suspension. The reason it’s taking so long – the only possible reason it’s taking so long – is he’s trying to find a way to make a different decision, a more reasonable decision.

  31. zoxitic says:
    Aug 14, 2014 10:26 PM

    Make it 8 games and everyone is satisfied.


    No, not everyone is satisfied.

    The CBA calls for a one year suspension. Gordon knew the rules, broke them, and now must live with the consequences. No gray areas, no negotiations for a reduced suspension.

    Right or wrong, out of step with current times or not, the bottom line is Gordon knew he was being monitored very closely and still made a bad decision and got caught. That is squarely on his shoulders.

    One other fact a lot of fans are overlooking is that other players have done the same thing and have paid the full price.

    Gordon should be no different.

    One year suspension and then tack on more for the DUI.

    Bye-Bye Josh.

  32. It means the NFL is waiting until the Ray Rice debacle blows over before they issue another ridiculous suspension. Steven A will get suspended again for claiming that the weed is at fault for getting smoked

  33. I suspect that the suspension will uphold and the delay is really a further punishment because he tried to appeal. He will now miss all of training camp and 2+ pre-season games next year.. Just for smoking weed.

  34. They can pretend they are unrelated, but the NFL painted themselves into a corner on the Ray Rice 2 game suspension for beating a woman unconscious – while planning to suspend another guy for a year based on a dubious-at-best test result for pot.

  35. Well said – unfair to both Gordon and the Browns. Can only imagine the delay is due to NFL brass scouring the “rules” for some cover when they inevitably back track this to 8 or fewer. I can’t imagine “we were just going to summarily ignore the appeal, but then people were outraged by the slap on the wrist for Rice” has been stamped by PR.

  36. Habitual offender….
    Pretty simple 1 year to get the help he obviously needs to get himself right

  37. Good old Roger taken his sweet time so he can take Josh Gordon in the 10th round of his fantasy draft this weekend, knowing Josh Gordon will be there for his week 10 playoff push.

    I wonder how much that buy in is? If the players are buying in for 50k, it’s got to be double, triple quadruple that!

  38. I think pot should be legal.

    But if you know your employer doesn’t like it, you should quit. Either quit smoking pot or quit your job. Because you can’t do both.

  39. Why should the delay matter now? Didn’t Gordon create the delay by carrying out this charade with the samples. That’s not anyone’s fault but his own. When the year hits, and it will, because of this nonsense Gordon will have cost him the early part of 15 as well. And that’s on him

  40. “Make it 8 games and everyone is satisfied.”

    Especially guys like me who drafted him late banking that the suspension will be reduced!

  41. How about he just doesn’t smoke weed or hangout with people that do? Who cares how long it takes it’s ultimately his fault and the Browns should be mad at him no one else.

  42. What is the remedy if a decision is not made in a “reasonable” amount of time? No punishment?

    If so, once the long delayed decision is rendered then should Gordon challenge the decision as moot since it did not occur in a reasonable amount of time?

    At some point the practitioners of law or their clients need to be held to account for their definitions of “reasonable”.

  43. The NFL needs to get over weed and take it off the banned substance list.

    Otherwise I see sometime in the next couple years a player on Denver or Seattle testing positive and filing a lawsuit against the league for suspending him for doing something legal.

  44. The delay in judgment means the NFL is carefully evaluating the positive or negative spin they may receive depending on what their actual ruling says, which was decided six days ago.

  45. This is what happens when you hand out dis-proportioned penalties out.

    Ray Rice should be out for 6 games at least.

  46. Actually, I think it has more to do with the Minnesota case, Ohio labor laws, as well as, Federal laws. Everyone knows if they suspend Gordon. Gordon’s representatives will file a TRO.

    Voluntarily going into a program and accepting the consequences that come with the program, is one thing. Yet, when the program is designed for you to fail. Well that is illegal. Considering the low threshold of the test. the +/- variance of the machine in respect to the threshold. The fact one sample is positive and one sample is negative from the same specimen. You, kind of get the picture that the NFL, is going through case history and laws to see where they stand.

    Which if I read correctly is between a rock and hard place on this issue.

  47. The NFL isn’t messing with Gordon. This is standard process under Roger Goodell. I don’t know why people are just realizing that? The guy has no idea how to run anything, he drags out everything. There is some credit due for not rushing into decisions, but under his “leadership,” every single issue takes a stunningly long amount of time. I have given up on anyone trying to change his singular monetary focus of every major decision he makes for the league, but maybe this is something that can be changed. Decisions have to be made in a much quicker manner, for the player, the teams, and for the league. It is just awful PR to keep dragging out these decisions which distract from what happens on the field.

  48. It’s simple. They’re giving him the year. But they don’t want to announce it until they’ve released their revised domestic abuse policy. Expect the worst, they’re covering their butts because they screwed up royally.

  49. The NFL needs to change their policy that basically excommunicates a kid from even being around the team while serving any kind of substance abuse suspension. It’s the flat out wrong thing to do. The team environment is exactly what a kid needs in this exact situation. It provides structure, discipline and a support network that I would argue is precicely what’s needed in these cases. Instead, the NFL basically sends the message of punishment over rehability and ultimately signs their card “good luck” and “best wishes” without dealing meaning either one.

  50. Just because he is a star player doesn’t mean he deserves a different judgement.

    The decisions he made while in Stage III of a Substance Abuse Program prove that he doesn’t take the NFL seriously and is not a professional.

    He needs to serve a year suspension, as stated in the CBA set forth for all players to adhere to. When he proves he can act like a professional, then he has earned his place back in the NFL.

  51. It’s absolutely ridiculous at this point. Punishing Gordon for what he did is understandable, but being that the suspension is a calendar year and not just 16 games, you’re now punishing the team by dragging it out this long.

    Also, if they’re going to drop the hammer on Gordon because of all of the backlash from NOT dropping the hammer on Ray Rice, that’s bullcrap. They are totally separate situations, and Gordon should NOT pay the price for the NFL’s complete and utter lack of disciplinine in the Rice case. It isn’t even a case of “one guy smoked weed, the other knocked his wife out” – it’s a case of keeping the two situations completely separate. Trying to fix the Rice situation by over-punishing Gordon would be yet another horrible decision by the NFL, and yet another public relations disaster.

  52. washington is still waiting for his ruling on the domestic which i believe happened before rice. already been to court everything but still waiting. i don’t understand why so long. cvery simple he did or he didn’t do what they said.

  53. The NFL’s punishment of the city of Cleveland for rightfully protesting the “move” to Baltimore continues. By delaying the punishment announcement, potentially means that Gordon will miss half of next year’s training camp.

  54. harrisonhits2 says: Aug 15, 2014 8:27 AM

    “The NFL needs to get over weed and take it off the banned substance list.

    Otherwise I see sometime in the next couple years a player on Denver or Seattle testing positive and filing a lawsuit against the league for suspending him for doing something legal.”

    The NFL is smart to keep mj on the banned substances list. Though public opinion may be shifting, most adults still disapprove of marijuana usage and wouldn’t buy little Johnny a jersey of a known stoner. And, for better or for worse, marijuana usage is still ILLEGAL everywhere in the U.S., even in Colorado and Washington, because it is still a violation of federal law.

  55. “Meanwhile Jim Irsay is laughing somewhere giving out 100 dollar bills to fans.”


    Absolutely no talk about this at all. This would be my argument to not have any decision on my case until you deal with Irsay. How long has it been since this happened? Same thing for Aldon Smith

  56. This is how the NFL PR machine wags the dog. The Rice case was too fresh in the press and they’d been hammered on that one, so they want to push the Gordon one out as far as possible.

    You can imagine Goodell and his cronies meeting right now trying to decide what punishment will get the least flak. Doubtful that fairness or justice will ever come up, it’s all just a question of what they think will garner the most favorable press.

  57. All you people above saying that this is clear cut, all or nothing, he agreed to the CBA, suspend him for the year and be done with it….

    That’s NOT how things work in America and haven’t for a long time. Often times conflicts between a signed agreement and a state or federal laws have to be reviewed & considered.

    Gordon is fighting this, for very good reasons. There has never been a positive drug test in the NFL where the other sample tested negative.

    OHIO law is very clear on Confirmatory Testing in Employment Drug Testing programs.

    The NFL is stuck and trying to figure out what to do. And before they give Gordon a ZERO game suspension on the inconclusive test results, they want to review past cases and see what sort of backlash they’re going to receive from other teams/players.

  58. To all those trying to use the star caps case in Gordon’s defense claiming he could file suit citing ohio laws. You might want to recheck the facts on the outcome of the star caps case. The players LOST. The appeals court ruled that the CBA over ruled state law. Will Smith, Kevin and Pat Williams all served a 2 game suspension and fined 2 extra game checks for using the star caps. ( Charles Grant and Duece McCallister were retired by then).

  59. I don’t think the NFL owes Gordon anything… if he doesn’t care that much about his career, why should the league? He’ll get his ruling, until then he can sweat it for awhile.

  60. I need to find one of those instantaneous transcript producing court reporters! I am always waiting on edge to get my trial transcripts back after a week long trial with only 30-days to file a Motion for New Trial if I’ve lost! Takes time. Wheels have to turn.

  61. Are people really that slooow to continue to compare Rice and Gordon?? The two are not related in any way.

    The CBA has a penalty in it for MULTIPLE violations of illegal drugs policy. Yes it’s kind of stupid for weed, but it was agreed to by both parties. Gordon is stupid enough to be caught MULTIPLE times. He’d be getting a gift if it is reduced to 8 games and it would set precedent that I don’t think King Roger wants to do….which of course means that’s what he’ll do since he never has any logical thinking when giving out suspensions.

  62. bill3334 says:
    Aug 15, 2014 11:29 AM
    To all those trying to use the star caps case in Gordon’s defense claiming he could file suit citing ohio laws. You might want to recheck the facts on the outcome of the star caps case. The players LOST. The appeals court ruled that the CBA over ruled state law. Will Smith, Kevin and Pat Williams all served a 2 game suspension and fined 2 extra game checks for using the star caps. ( Charles Grant and Duece McCallister were retired by then)

    NO, the appeals court did not rule that CBA overruled state law…it said the drug testing and CBA policy are consistent with state law…but your’e right the players all lost.

    What’s different with Gordon is that the CBA policy is NOT consistent with Ohio state law which requires a CONFIRMATORY TEST.

    Gordon’s supposedly failed test for THC had 2 samples. Sample A tested positive at 16ng/ml but his sample B (which would be the Confirmatory Test) was a NEGATIVE test at 13ng/ml.

    The CBA doesn’t require a Confirmatory POSITIVE test. But OHIO law DOES.

    Gordon is getting a ZERO game suspension, and the NFL is scrambling to figure out to ensure how they handle the backlash from others who have been suspended.

  63. This case is such a waste of time but the NFL is trying to find a way to justify an inconsistent policy. How does one sample yield two different results that can arbitrarily lead to two vastly different outcomes for a player? In most cases they run one test and if anything comes up they use a more accurate test on another sample, such as gc-ms. If the NFL is not using the gc-ms results this test could easily be a false positive especially given their absurdly low threshold for a positive test. Josh Gordon has passed at least 70 drug tests and now we have one test that should be thrown out-at least according to Ohio State labor laws. He’s not a drug addict and doesn’t need rehab so drop this and suspend him for at least 2 games for the DUI.

  64. Josh Gordon’s DUI has no bearing on his situation for failing 1/2 of a drug test. He blew a .09 and I bet it is going to get reduced to a reckless opp.

  65. tomarvizquel says:
    Aug 15, 2014 3:14 PM
    Josh Gordon’s DUI has no bearing on his situation for failing 1/2 of a drug test. He blew a .09 and I bet it is going to get reduced to a reckless opp.

    1 0 i
    Rate This
    It does when he is already in the substance abuse program which stats ZERO drinking and it also shows he just doesn’t care.

  66. 13.63 nanograms of deadly MJ in his system! Why didn’t they just give him the chair? If only he’d just knocked his fiancee cold in the elevator, no biggie there.

    Or killed someone.

    The nfl has an image problem. It is well-deserved. They appear to distribute punishment with the old Eight-Ball. Just shake it a little, turn it over and read the punishment. It’s called credibility. And even an unholy dope fiend like Gordon’s got more cred than the nfl right now.

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