After weeks of speculation regarding the status of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, it was officially determined Wednesday that his year-long suspension will not be reduced.
According to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports 1, last season's receiving yardage leader will now miss the entire 2014 campaign:
BREAKING: Sources tell @FOXSports1 Browns WR Josh Gordon's one-year suspension has been upheld on appeal.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 27, 2014
It was first reported by T.J. Quinn and Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN.com in May that Gordon had failed a drug test for marijuana and was in line to be suspended for the whole season.
Gordon appealed and claimed that the failed drug test was a result of secondhand smoke, per ESPN's Adam Schefter, but that defense wasn't enough to change the ruling.
Per Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman, Gordon's past transgressions played a big role in not getting a reprieve this time around:
Josh Gordon one-year suspension upheld. NFL source familiar with the case tells me: "He doesn't deserve benefit of the doubt."— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) August 27, 2014
After the suspension was officially upheld, Gordon released a statement through the NFLPA, courtesy of NFL Network's Albert Breer.
I'd like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Cleveland Browns organization and our fans. I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn't exercise better discretion and judgment in my case. I would like to sincerely thank the people who have been incredibly supportive of me during this challenging time, including my family, my agent, my union, my legal team, and the Cleveland Browns staff.
Breer also weighed in on Gordon and the problems surrounding him:
Having talked to people who know Josh Gordon, there's a feeling his self-esteem issues are the overriding problem, moreso than the drugs.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 27, 2014
Joe Banner, the former Browns CEO also commented on the news:
Wow, that's just plain sad.— Joe Banner (@JoeBanner13) August 27, 2014
ESPN's Andrew Brandt viewed Gordon's statement as sour grapes since his secondhand smoke defense ultimately didn't fly with the NFL:
Translation to Josh Gordon's disappointment about "discretion" of NFL office: "They didn't believe my defense."— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) August 27, 2014
If it wasn't bad enough for Gordon and the Browns that he will miss all of 2014, it turns out that the suspension will last for a calendar year, which means he will have to sit out training camp in 2015 as well, per Schefter:
So Josh Gordon suspension upheld. One year. And now Gordon will miss all of next year's training camp as well.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 27, 2014
Gordon will not be permitted to have any contact with the team during his suspension, which is something that ESPN's Trey Wingo is not a proponent of:
Also.. NFL must address how suspended players are handled. Taking Gordon away from team and any structure and support makes zero sense— trey wingo (@wingoz) August 27, 2014
Since the decision was upheld on appeal, that means there is no way for Gordon to seek reinstatement, according to Breer:
Per source, there is no avenue for reinstatement as part of the Josh Gordon decision. His camp will look into other alternatives.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 27, 2014
Even so, Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com would like to see Gordon and his camp make some noise regarding the NFL's marijuana policy:
#Browns Josh Gordon is whacked one year. He has nothing to lose by challenging draconian NFL marijuana policy. Go for it.— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) August 27, 2014
As outdated as the policy may seem, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller points out that Gordon and every other NFL player must still follow the rules that are in place:
Should the NFL adjust weed policies? Yes. But until they do, players like Gordon must pay the penalty.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) August 27, 2014
Also, it isn't as if Gordon is a first-time offender. He has been a big-time problem child in the NFL, which is why Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk isn't particularly outraged by the NFL's decision:
I'd have a lot more sympathy for Josh Gordon if he hadn't gotten a DUI while in the middle of his appeal.— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) August 27, 2014
Now that such a significant punishment has been levied against Gordon, NFL Network's Rich Eisen believes that there will be no more "second chances" for Gordon should he screw up again:
Josh Gordon, this is your final wake up call.— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) August 27, 2014
Not surprisingly, Gordon's suspension has been compared to the two-game ban that will be served by Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. While Rice's offense of assaulting his wife is far more despicable than Gordon's, Rice will be the one playing when the Browns and Ravens meet in Week 3, as ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley points out:
With that in mind, Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune is disgusted by the NFL's handling of disciplinary situations:
Ray Rice two games. Josh Gordon a year. Congratulations on being completely corrupt and misguided, NFL management.— Jim Souhan (@SouhanStrib) August 27, 2014
The decision has been made, though, which means the Browns must now move on without Gordon. That may prove to be very difficult since quarterback Brian Hoyer—and perhaps eventually rookie Johnny Manziel—will have a mediocre cast of receivers to throw to, per SportsCenter:
Without All-Pro Josh Gordon, the Browns' wide receivers have a lot to prove this season. pic.twitter.com/JHjVQjWlOi— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 27, 2014
Leave it to Jim Rome of CBS Sports to provide a reality check, however, as he believes the Browns were destined to struggle with or without Gordon:
Browns fans, you will not have Josh Gordon for that playoff push that was never going to happen anyway.— Jim Rome (@jimrome) August 27, 2014
For how long does Gordon deserve to be suspended?
Gordon is undoubtedly one of the NFL's most explosive, exciting and talented players, but none of that means anything without discipline. He has the ability to be an all-time great; however, it is now up to him to put this in the past.
The Baylor product will have one long year to think about this situation and whether or not he wants to be an NFL player. Whether the suspension is excessive or not, Gordon has nobody to blame but himself.
The big question now relates to whether he will use this as motivation or allow it to plunge him further into an abyss that he will never escape.
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