Cleveland Browns All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon is appealing his season-long suspension for a failed marijuana test, but it didn't prevent him from returning to training camp Monday.
Marc Sessler of NFL.com reports Gordon was in attendance at the Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio. Gordon will meet with the media on Monday through a teleconference, but league commissioner Roger Goodell will not be involved.
In May, ESPN.com's T.J. Quinn and Don Van Natta Jr. wrote: "One source said Gordon received a letter in early winter from a league physician stating he had failed a test. A second letter, informing Gordon that he faced a 16-game suspension but had the right to appeal, was sent in late April."
Gordon missed practice last week while appealing the case. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported on July 29 that Gordon's case relies on the difference between his "A" and "B" samples:
For Gordon, the "A" bottle showed a concentration of 16 ng/ml, only one nanogram per milliliter above the limits of 15. The "B" bottle showed a concentration of 13.6 ng/ml — less than the threshold.
But because the "A" bottle was labeled "A" and not "B" and because the "B" bottle was labeled "B" and not "A," the end result is a positive and a minimum one-year banishment from the NFL. Flip the bottles when it’s time to apply the labels, and Gordon isn’t facing a suspension.
Two days later, Florio noted there is a "slight chance" the league and Gordon could come to a compromise.
Gordon will have a strong support system in place, even if his appeal is ultimately unsuccessful. Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer offered this from head coach Mike Pettine:
If any of our players are in need of help, we'll do our best to provide it for them and also that we're going to do what we feel is best for the organization. By league guidelines, whatever help we can provide him, we're going to do it. A Cleveland Brown is a Cleveland Brown. If we feel we can help him, let's help him. Sometimes you're handcuffed by the situation, so until it plays out then there's really nothing tangible we can do at this point.
Fox Sports 1's Mike Garafolo reported Gordon went to rehab after his latest incident:
Said on @AmericasPregame Josh Gordon checked himself into rehab following his DUI arrest. Still expected to report to camp tomorrow.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 24, 2014
Gordon missed the first two games of the 2013 season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, yet he still led the league in receiving yards in just 14 games, with 1,646. He also added nine touchdowns, all with a combination of Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell under center.
The prospective starting QB, Hoyer, is in Gordon's corner, per the Akron Beacon Journal's Nate Ulrich, as is star cornerback Joe Haden, per Cleveland.com's Tom Reed:
At Joe Haden's celebrity softball game, #Browns QB Brian Hoyer said team supports Josh Gordon. Said you just don't cast someone aside.— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) July 17, 2014
Joe Haden says he has reached and spoken to Josh Gordon. Keeping conversation private.— Tom Reed (@treed1919) July 17, 2014
ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi succinctly outlined one element Cleveland's offense will be missing should Gordon be held out of action:
“@TimsNoEinstein: Who can emerge as downfield threat WR if Josh Gordon is unavailable?” // Nobody.— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) July 20, 2014
Gordon's looming suspension has cast a dark cloud over the franchise after a successful draft.
New general manager Ray Farmer drafted both corner Justin Gilbert and QB Johnny Manziel in the first round. The team also acquired the Bills' 2015 first- and fourth-round picks when Buffalo traded up to select Sammy Watkins at No. 4. Additionally, Cleveland dealt its seventh-round pick for the Ravens' 2015 sixth-round selection.
Gordon, still just 23, is arguably the second-best wideout in the game behind Detroit's Calvin Johnson. However, he won't be helping the Browns rebound from a 4-12 season and an 11-year playoff drought from the pine.