For Browns receiver Josh Gordon, the wheels of NFL justice moved sssslowly. He became aware of the one-year suspension in early May, at the latest. His appeal hearing ended on August 4. He learned his fate on August 27.
For 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, things moved much more quickly. He was sentenced on multiple weapons charges and DUI on July 18. He met with the Commissioner in early August. Now, barely three weeks later, the process has been fully and finally resolved, with Smith suspended under both the personal-conduct policy and the substance-abuse policy.
While some have reported that Aldon Smith exhausted his appeal rights, the more likely explanation is that he waived them as part of the punishment under both policies. For Smith, no mention was made of appeal rights in the NFL’s announcement; for Ravens running back Ray Rice, the suspension was imposed under the personal-conduct policy, and the announcement expressly declared that he has the right to appeal it.
Also, for any discipline under the substance-abuse policy, the player is entitled to an appeal hearing like the one Gordon had, followed by a potentially protracted wait for a ruling. In the interim, the player is entitled to play.
Given the speed with which this one moved, and given the potentially complicated interplay between the two policies, it’s reasonable to deduce that Smith waived his appeal rights — possibly in exchange for the league’s decision to allow him to continue to come to the facility while suspended, a courtesy that is available to players suspended for less than a year under the substance-abuse policy but not to players suspended under the personal-conduct policy.
Who knows? The consideration extended to Smith in exchange for apparently waiving his appeal rights could extend to a potential reduction of the suspension, if he manages to stay out of trouble. Based on his history, that could be a fairly large if.