Josh Gordon Faces Season-Long Suspension After 2nd Failed Drug Test

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IMay 9, 2014

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Updates from Sunday, Sept. 14

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network has the latest update on Josh Gordon and his chances of training at the Browns facility during his suspension: 

Updates from Wednesday, Sept. 10

Josh Gordon commented on if he believes he has a drug problem to, (h/t Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer): 

Do I believe I have a drug problem? Definitely not. In this case, I was exposed to it from second-hand (smoke), and prior to I've been drug-free and have been staying that way - and this incident has been causing a backlash of negative attention and negative media of me being an addict or a junkie, or using drugs terribly too much, which is definitely not the case and I'd like to definitely have that out in the open and be clear with that for sure.


Updates from Wednesday, Aug. 27

Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports reports the NFL's decision on Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon's appeal:

The NFL Players Association released a statement from Gordon:

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.

ESPN's Adam Schefter shared the Browns' feelings toward the drawn-out appeal process:

Updates from Monday, Aug. 25

Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports passed along comments from Browns coach Mike Pettine on Josh Gordon:

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Updates from Sunday, Aug. 24

Browns coach Mike Pettine commented on Josh Gordon's status for the regular season a day after the wide receiver did not play against the St. Louis Rams in Week 3 of the preseason, via Nate Ulrich of

I wasn't sending a message. Knowing that the decision is looming, that we're fairly certain that we're not going to have him for at minimum some part of the year, we wanted to make sure that we were getting repetitions with the guys that were going to be out there early.

Updates from Thursday, Aug. 21

ESPN's Jim Trotter provides an update on Josh Gordon's feelings as the star wide receiver's suspension looms:

It's 17 days and counting with no ruling on Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon's appeal of a year-long suspension for violating the league's drug policy, and the silence is getting to the Pro Bowler.

"It's human nature," coach Mike Pettine said. "It's definitely weighing on him. He, like all of us, wants to know and wants to get on with this and move forward. Just being in limbo for so long can be draining. He made the comment the other day that the football field is where he feels most at home, so it's important to him.


Updates from Thursday, Aug. 14

ESPN's Adam Schefter has the latest on when the NFL plans on making a final decision on Josh Gordon's potential suspension: 

Updates from Wednesday, Aug. 6

Kevin Jones of reported on Josh Gordon's expected action in Cleveland's preseason opener:

Wide receiver Josh Gordon will be mixed in with first and second team units, and may even see playing time in the second half.

Updates from Tuesday, Aug. 5

Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer reports on how long the Browns expect star receiver Josh Gordon to be out:

The Browns are bracing themselves for at least an eight-game suspension for receiver Josh Gordon, league sources told


But the two sides can also hammer out a settlement, and that's what the Browns are hoping for. Realistically, the best-case scenario would probably be about eight games, a source said.

Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan provides an update on Gordon's status from Browns coach Mike Pettine:

Updates from Monday, Aug. 4

Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer reported on when Josh Gordon can expect a decision on his appeal:

Pro Football Talk reported on Gordon's appeal:

Earlier, Cabot reported how Gordon participated in the appeal hearing Monday:

Updates from Friday, Aug. 1

Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt provides details on Gordon's hearing: "Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon’s hearing with the NFL is going to overtime. A league source tells PFT that Gordon’s hearing in New York went from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and will continue Monday."

ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi reports on how Friday's hearing went:

Receiver Josh Gordon was absent from practice to plead his appeal of a drug suspension in New York before league-designee Harold Henderson. ...

... While Henderson, a former league vice president, heard the appeal, it is believed that a decision on Gordon will not be finalized until Commissioner Roger Goodell returns to New York Monday from Hall of Fame festivities this weekend in Canton, OH. At a press availability outside the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Friday, Goodell said, “Josh is going through the process right now. I am not a part of that process. At some point in time, I may have an opportunity to be involved. When I am, I look forward to meeting with him.”

Pro Football Talk reported more on the hearing:

Updates from Thursday, July 31

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio has this on Gordon:

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, a 'slight chance' of a resolution exists. Any deal presumably would entail a suspension for Gordon that lasts less than a year.

If one side is less inclined to negotiate than the other, it’s possible that the hearing officer will send signals, indirect or explicit, that it would be wise for that party to be more open-minded. Which could get a deal done during the hearing or after it.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reiterates when Gordon's appeal will be heard:

Mary Kay-Cabot of The Plain Dealer passes along details on the appeal:

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller reveals how the league may act:

Updates from Wednesday, July 30

Mary Kay Cabot adds information and context for Gordon's secondhand-smoke defense:

But the NFL has heard the second-hand smoke defense before -- and no player has ever won his appeal on those grounds. 'You are responsible for what is in your body,' NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told in an email response. 'That has always been a cornerstone of our drug-testing programs.' ...

... The source told NEOMG that Gordon's case is different than the other players who lost their second-hand smoke appeal, in that Gordon is believed to be the only one whose 'B' test was below the NFL's threshold for the banned substance in marijuana, THC. ...

... The source told NEOMG that in addition to Gordon testing negative about 70 times since his rookie year, he's tested positive only once for marijuana in the NFL -- in his rookie year in 2012.

Mike Florio contacted NFLPA spokesman Brian McCarthy on the potential of a reduced suspension for Gordon: 

The disciplinary penalties were negotiated by the NFLPA and NFL more than 20 years ago and there has never been a proposal to change them. When they were first established, the union expressed the strong view that they needed to be stated and mandatory to ensure that all players be treated the same regardless of position, experience, level of ability, or competitive considerations. On appeal, the hearing officer’s responsibility is to determine whether the violation was established and, if so, he is bound by the agreed-upon sanctions.

Updates from Tuesday, July 29

Florio reported on Gordon's appeal:

Albert Breer of reminds us how strict the NFL's policy is: 

Adam Schefter provides more details on the defense:

The legal team for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon will argue in a hearing Friday that its client has disputed test results that were caused from second-hand marijuana smoke, according to sources.

Gordon is appealing the NFL's imposition of a yearlong suspension for a positive test for marijuana. ...

... Gordon's attorneys also plan to introduce witnesses who will testify that Gordon's scores indicate he was the victim of breathing in secondhand smoke, according to sources. The league has maintained that it does not intend to suspend players for secondhand smoke.

Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer has more on the secondhand-smoke defense:

Florio later provided more details on Gordon:

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Gordon landed in Stage III of the program last year as part of a negotiated two-game suspension for the use of cough syrup that contained codeine.  Once in Stage III, a player never leaves.  And he must pass up to 10 drug tests per month.

According to the source, Gordon has passed at least 70 drug tests.  One test barely generated a positive.  And but for the 50-50 luck of the draw, it would have been a negative.

Updates from Monday, June 23

Florio has the latest news on Gordon's appeal:

Before a decision can be made on whether Browns receiver Josh Gordon will miss at least a full calendar year, an appeal hearing must be held.  Before an appeal hearing can be held, it must be scheduled.

That hasn’t happened, yet.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, an appeal hearing has not yet been placed on the calendar. ...

... Pending a final decision via the arbitration process, settlement remains a possibility.

Updates from Thursday, June 12

Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today has this on Gordon's status:

News of Gordon's possible suspension broke via ESPN on May 9, the second day of the draft. But the league has made no announcement regarding his status for 2014. The Browns finished their mandatory minicamp on Thursday. Players will report for training camp July 25, by which time Pettine said he's hopeful the Gordon question will be resolved.

'We haven't been given a date. I think in fairness to us, the league would let us know between then,' Pettine said Thursday. 'There's no information as for what their plans are to release it, but I think we're all comfortable thinking we should know before training camp starts.'

Updates from Tuesday, June 3

Tony Grossi of reports the Browns' expectations for Josh Gordon's availability for the 2014 regular season:

The fate of Josh Gordon will be known any day. The Browns are expecting the worst – an indefinite suspension with a chance to apply for reinstatement after one year. The coaches look at Gordon performing at OTAs, marvel at his smoothness and phenomenal athleticism, and consider him a player simply unavailable in 2014 – same as one with a torn ACL or other season-ending injury. Despite the prevailing fan sentiment to cut ties with Gordon, the Browns have no inclination to do anything rash. ...

... If Gordon’s suspension is reduced on appeal, it would begin with the first week of regular season and he would be able to participate in training camp and play in preseason games. If it is an indefinite suspension, it would kick in immediately and he would not be able to be around the team for a minimum of one year.

Updates from Wednesday, May 28

Mike Florio provides an update on Gordon from Mary Kay-Cabot:

Gordon was in Stage 3 of the substance-abuse program at the time of his most recent alleged violation.

The highest level of the program, Stage 3 happens only after multiple violations of the policy. Under the terms of the policy, the player remains in Stage 3 for the rest of his career. The league may test him up to 10 times per month; he has the ability to make an annual request to have the frequency of the testing reduced.

Updates from Friday, May 23

Alex Marvez of Fox Sports has more info on Gordon's suspension:

Neither the Browns nor Gordon's camp have provided details on what exactly happened. But new Oakland Raiders wide receiver Greg Little -- who is one of Gordon's close friends and a Browns teammates until being waived last week -- indicated Thursday night that the suspension may not stem from something as simple as a positive urine sample.

'He's a guy that's going to work to get back and show this is a mistake,' Little told co-host Bill Polian and me about Gordon on SiriusXM NFL Radio. 'It's something that wasn't in his control, so to speak. I don't want to get into too much detail about it.'

Although Little wouldn't elaborate further, one possibility is that Gordon missed a random NFL drug test that he was subject to taking. A missed test would automatically be considered a positive under the league's substance-abuse policy.

Gordon also could potentially try to appeal based upon the belief that the testing process was flawed.

Updates from Thursday, May 22

Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal has this from Browns receiver Miles Austin:

Obviously, he’s a tremendous receiver. The first time I saw him, the first time I actually brushed up against to him, I was like ‘Man, this guy is huge.’ At the end of the day, the NFL is a league where, regardless of what happens with any situation or position, if someone goes down, someone has to fill in. And if it’s not one person, it’s collectively as a group you have to pick up the slack.

He made a one-handed catch on the field yesterday to end practice and the ball didn’t bobble at all. He caught it with one hand and ran it up field. When you see things like that, you realize how talented [he is] and hopefully we can all add to the talent of the team.

Tight end Jordan Cameron also gave his thoughts, per Ulrich:

Anytime you lose the leading receiver in the NFL, it’s not a good thing. It will be a void definitely. [Offensive coordinator] Kyle [Shanahan] is a smart guy. He’ll find a way to fill that void, and we’ve got some playmakers that will fill in and try to fill that void the best we can.

Updates from Wednesday, May 21

Aditi Kinkhabwala of provided the latest from Browns OTAs after the report surrounding Josh Gordon's potential suspension:

Mary Kay Cabot passed along a photo of Gordon at practice:

Updates from Monday, May 19

Mary Kay Cabot provides a statement from Browns head coach Mike Pettine discussing Gordon's availability for the team's upcoming organized activities:

Browns coach Mike Pettine said the Pro Bowler will participate in organized team activities this week and that he hasn't heard anything yet from the NFL about Gordon's looming suspension.

'That's the expectation,' Pettine said at the Positive Coaching Alliance breakfast Monday morning at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The Browns and Gordon are awaiting word on how long he'll be suspended for testing positive for marijuana, as reported by ESPN.

Cabot, who confirms "Gordon's agent Drew Rosenhaus is in the process of appealing the suspension," also provided comments Pettine made last week stating that the team had a plan in place if Gordon is absent:

The situation didn't call for panic. That's something we weren't going to do.

We have to build this team so that no one player drives the ship. That we can be insulated losing players for extended periods of time potentially is part of the game. Successful franchises are the ones that have enough depth built and enough options to account for it.

Updates from Monday, May 12

Peter King of Sports Illustrated weighs in on how many games he anticipates Josh Gordon will be suspended for and his future with the Browns in wake of the reported failed drug test:

Assuming Gordon is found to have tested positive in the NFL’s substance-abuse program (which ESPN reported Friday), he’ll likely be banned for somewhere between eight and 16 games. ...

... The Browns are trying to establish a winning program, and if they can’t trust their best player, which Gordon clearly is, they’re going to have a tough decision on their hands if and when he’s suspended, and when he returns. Gordon has two years left on his rookie contract. How can the Browns possibly know what to pay him in a second contract, having no idea if they can trust him from one week to the next? If Gordon did test positive, and knowing that a monster contract would likely be coming at the end of this season if he could stay clean, it’s either a measure of the depth of his problem or a measure of his immaturity. Or both.

Later on Monday, owner Jimmy Haslam commented on Gordon, via Mary Kay Cabot of the The Plain Dealer:

Josh is learning and growing and improving as a person.

All of us have made mistakes when we were that age. We're counting on Josh being a good football player for the Browns for a long time to come. ...

... We spend a lot of time with all of our core players and Josh is obviously one of those. We have all spent a lot of time talking to Josh and I'm not going to comment on the situation but I'll say this, but I've been very pleased with his professional growth over the last year and the way he handles himself.

Original Text

Despite landing a promising pair of prospects in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, including Johnny Manziel, the Cleveland Browns could wind up being the big losers of draft weekend as explosive wide receiver Josh Gordon is facing a season-long suspension following a second failed drug test.'s T.J. Quinn and Don Van Natta Jr. reported on Friday that sources told ESPN's Outside the Lines that Gordon could possibly miss the entire 2014 season after testing positive for marijuana a few months back.

When asked about the report on Friday, Gordon was unable to comment, per Quinn and Van Natta Jr.:

"That's something you're going to have to talk to [agent] Drew Rosenhaus about. I really don't know anything about it."

Rosenhaus stated that the report was "not true," but declined to comment any further.

The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot adds a trio of interesting twists to Gordon's situation:

ESPN NFL insider Chris Mortensen explains an important league policy:

Bleacher Report NFL columnist Mike Freeman reports discouraging news for Gordon and Browns fans:

The 23-year-old Gordon missed the Browns' first two regular-season games a season ago after being suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy. But despite the suspension, Gordon managed to turn in one of the best seasons of any wide receiver in the league, catching 87 passes for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns. 

The former Baylor standout, who was selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL supplemental draft, is heading into his third season in the NFL.

With Gordon's status with the Browns in jeopardy, CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora points out that the team could perhaps adjust its strategy over the final six rounds of the 2014 NFL draft on Friday and Saturday:

For a downtrodden franchise like Cleveland, which hasn't made the playoffs in over a decade, losing a difference-maker like Gordon would be devastating. However, it's better the Browns learn of Gordon's fate in the midst of the draft rather than a day after its conclusion.

After all, this year's draft class is deep at wide receiver.

Duncan/Associated Press

If Gordon is indeed suspended, there's a chance he could appeal. But there's no telling whether he'd be successful. 

As Kay Cabot notes, Gordon's second violation could result in expulsion from the league. And if that happens, the Browns' wide receiving corps would not only be dealt a major blow in 2014, but possibly even further down the road.

Gordon's professional career would also take a major hit as his teams would be wary of signing him. 

Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu offered some words of advice for Gordon:

Mathieu's transformation from troubled and polarizing NFL draft prospect to NFL rookie standout proves that Gordon can bounce back from a potentially devastating penalty. 

Draft weekend began with tons of promise and excitement for the Browns, but the reports surrounding Gordon's status are sure to cast a dark cloud over Cleveland.