Still no ruling in the Josh Gordon case


A full 15 days have passed since hearing officer Harold Henderson concluded the hearing in connection with the appeal of Browns receiver Josh Gordon’s one-year suspension.  Nearly four months have passed since word of the suspension first emerged.

And there’s still no ruling.  The substance-abuse policy requires that a decision be made within a “reasonable time.”  That’s a fuzzy concept, but given the delays already inherent to the process, it’s all starting to feel unreasonable.

Under the plain language of the substance-abuse policy, it also would be unreasonable for Henderson to impose anything other than a one-year suspension or no suspension at all.  Despite multiple reports and a clear suggestion from ESPN’s Mike Tirico during Monday night’s Cleveland-Washington game that Henderson could split the difference, the rules simply don’t contemplate it.  If the policy is applied as written, it will be all or nothing.

While Henderson technically has the power to do whatever he wants, failing to interpret and apply the policy as written could result in the NFL no longer hiring Henderson to serve as a hearing officer.  Unless, of course, the NFL wants Henderson to find a middle ground, so that Gordon’s suspension for smoking marijuana (possibly on a second-hand basis) won’t be quite as glaring in comparison to Ray Rice’s two-game ban for domestic violence.

The cleaner outcome, if the difference is going to be split, would come from a negotiation.  As of Tuesday night, however, there have been no talks — and none are expected.

Still, if Henderson wants to work this out, he can get the parties on the phone and ask the NFL to offer an eight-game suspension and to keep it open for 24 hours while Gordon decides what to do, with a wink-nod understanding that, if a ruling is issued, it will be a full-year suspension.

Plenty of judges have used that and similar tactics to get cases settled.  Don’t be shocked if it happens here.

61 responses to “Still no ruling in the Josh Gordon case

  1. Ummmm….didn’t Bowe just have his 3 prohibited substance failure? And he got only a 1 game suspension? Why wasn’t that a year?

  2. Verdicts don’t take this long to be doled out in MURDER TRIALS for crying out loud. Seems like they’re just messing with Gordon at this point.

  3. It seems likely something is happening behind the scenes that is not being reported.

    If Gordon is suspended for the entire year, does he have any legal options available to overturn this decision? It seems like the NFL would need a more legitimate reason than embarrassment over the Ray Rice comparisons to be delaying a decision this long.

  4. Poor Cleveland has turned into such a train wreck.

    This boy Johnny is lined up for the biggest crash in football history. It’s only a matter of time that the media turns hard on this kid and he has a Ryan Leaf meltdown.

    Build him up, break him down. This poor little narcissist won’t know what’s going to hit him until it’s in the headlines.

    Who’s next… The lobster shoplifter?

    Love the game, sick of the theater…

  5. There has not been, nor will there be, negotiation because either the NFL voids the suspension based on secondhand smoke, inconsistent testing procedures, faulty equipment, etc., or an Ohio state court voids the suspension because Gordon did not fail a drug test under Ohio law. I think the NFL would just prefer to keep this out of state court.

    Either way, Gordon plays the entire season. And no, Gordon does not then get suspended for the DUI. That gets plead down to reckless driving and have yet to hear of a first-time offender under the personal conduct policy getting suspended for a reckless driving citation.

  6. The NFL is soooo obvious…they THINK if they space the Gordon ruling out a bit, we the stupid fans, won’t be able to calculate their major mis – step with Ray Rice. I HOPE Gordon sues the league for screwing his 2015 season on a barely there positive.

  7. It seems to me the NFL is trying to give him one more chance some way some how so this isn’t a full year but it doesn’t seem like 10 chances is going to get to this guy’s head. Mr. Gordon has chosen what is most important to him and it’s not a job in the NFL.

  8. While I don’t necessarily agree with the policy, to not enforce it as written just because he is a marquee player would be wrong. Why should he get preferential treatment in a plainly written policy that he agreed to be bound to by participating in the NFL. Give him the year or nothing at all (based only on the evidence), but do not split the difference.

  9. If Josh Gordon played for the Giants or the Patriots or the Ravens or the Steelers, this would have been resolved weeks ago.
    Certain teams get treated with a lot of respect by the Commissioner and others do not.
    This is a disgrace that Goodell is jerking him and the team around. Why is it so hard, Mr Commissioner?


  11. 8 games and 2 games will still “be quite as glaring in comparison”
    By not resolving this quickly, the spot light keeps getting brighter. They would have been better off giving him a year BEFORE the joke of the Rice suspension.

    rock and a hard place. The only way out is to go 2 games, and they will still take a beating in the court of public opinion.

  12. He deserves a year for screwing up repeatedly but i suspect he’ll get a reduced sentence to appease the morons out there whose idea of a “complex thought” consists of comparing Rice and Gordon like they’ve just discovered how to make fire.

  13. They need to just let him off with a warning and set up drug therapy and counseling. It reflects so poorly on the values and morals of the owners that they are even considering suspending him for (worst case) smoking marijuana when they only gave Ray Rice a 2 game suspension for a disgusting and violent crime. I mean for god’s sake, it’s possible he inhaled the smoke second hand, he barely failed the test!

    Josh Gordan needs drug counseling and possibly therapy but he has done nothing to make us believe he is anything but an upstanding citizen and absolutely does not deserve a year long suspension!

  14. What a clusterfudge, it was quite clear that Josh’s head wasnt in the game Monday night, he obviously has a legitimate point of contention thus the impasse.

  15. One would assume that the reason for the delay is that he’s contemplating working out a “splitting the difference” type of compromise.

    If his plan is just to enforce the rule simply as written with no changes, I’d hope it wouldn’t take him 4 months to come to that decision.

  16. So basically what you’re saying is he either won’t be suspended at all, or for the full season, unless they decide for a middle ground? Got it.

  17. look NFL, our generation doesn’t give a damn if a guys smoked pot. He is a football player who probably needs some sort of pain&emotional relief and weed just happens to be that.

    Let us watch the stars that define positions, and let them smoke. It’s practically legal for the average joe, but not for a football player who plays on the edge of his physical talents. Puh-lease.

    Ban those who beat on women/try to cheat on a PED test.

    Let Gordon play. Ban him for the DUI if you have to, but not for the weed.

    I mean, Ricky Williams didn’t die, did he?

  18. As soon as the state of North Carolina finishes with him for the DUI the league could hit him with a LIFETIME ban for another offense against the Substance abuse policy. His actions since college has shown that he cares more about smoking dope and getting drunk than any career so why should he keep getting chance after chance.

  19. Regardless of which side of the fence you stand on this one, this is getting ridiculous. The suspension is for at least a calendar year, which inhibits preparation for next season as well, as Josh would only be able to return at this time next year. There’s no reason to delay this any longer, especially if no negotiations are taking place.

  20. Can you imagine the stress this kid is under? Hard to keep your focus not knowing whats happening for months at a time.

  21. An eight game suspension for the failed drug test would be fair provided an additional eight games are then added for the DUI.

    See ya next year Josh… Bye-Bye now.

  22. Why does everyone conveniently forget that yes, Josh Gordon was cited for a DUI, but he has not gone to trial and will, most likely, have the charge reduced as he blew a .09.

    The timing on this thing is ridiculous. We’ve known about this since May and there still is no definitive ruling at the end of August. Get it together, NFL!

  23. Yeah the stress for Josh must be pretty HIGH……
    Sounds like he already has a solution to helping him solve that stress….. Oh wait, that’s why we’re here in the first place & how he copes regularly with things…. My bad

  24. The far bigger crime would be if he does get a full year, he won’t be able to come back ’til next year’s 3rd preseason game. That is just not fair, at least reset that to May to match when word of the suspension first emerged.

  25. The kid made his own mess. He’s had warnings before. He should get probably a full year suspension, because them screwing up Ray Rice’s punishment should not mean they screw up Gordon’s.

    No special leniency just because pot is becoming legalized in some states. The NFL can shift it’s policy in general, but the old rules still apply until that point and these are the rules that Gordon agreed to live by as a player.

    Justice is always best if it’s somewhat swift, so the hearing officer and the NFL need to get their butts in gear.

    I feel sorry for no one in this scenario.

  26. If the rules “don’t contemplate” anything besides an all or nothing approach, that could be interpreted as allowing the hearing officer to use discretion and giving him anything from nothing to 16 games and anything in between. If there’s language elsewhere implying he can’t, then he can’t.

  27. It is being bargained down to an 8-game suspension. I don’t know what’s taking so long but you can take the final outcome to the bank.

    And don’t be surprised at all if Johnny Football is “promoted” to the starter at about, oh, Week 9.

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