Despite news of a potential suspension officially breaking way back in May, we still have no idea what fate lies ahead for Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon. Reportedly testing positive for marijuana and facing a year-long ban, Gordon appealed the suspension a couple weeks ago. However, the NFL still hasn’t made any decision.
One thing which appeared to possibly help Gordon’s cause was the league’s ruling on a different matter, and the controversy which followed.
After knocking his then-fiancé unconscious and dragging her out of an elevator, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was given an astonishingly lenient two-game suspension. The uproar was deafening, as it appeared as though the NFL didn’t really care too much about domestic violence.
Though it was completely separate case, some believed the fumbling of the Rice punishment would lead to the league trying to avoid further scrutiny by decreasing the suspension on Gordon for his testing positive for marijuana. This speculation was increased when reports surfaced stating Gordon just barely failed a test.
However, a story coming out of the NFL today is looking like it may hurt Gordon’s case.
The Washington Post leaked a report today claiming the NFL is looking into stricter punishments regarding domestic violence. The backlash being received for the slap on the wrist they gave Rice appears to have hit home with league execs, and now they want people to know they’re looking to change their policy.
What does this have to do with Gordon? Well, the NFL knew they’d look pretty bad if they barely suspended someone for domestic abuse, but threw the book at a player who failed a drug test by a hair. Some believe the league is issuing this “new policy” report now as a means to get out in front of the potential criticism they receive when they heavily punish Gordon, whenever that may be.
It seems unfair, especially to Gordon since he barely failed his test. However, it’s a clever move by the NFL. It also leads one to believe Gordon won’t be winning his appeal, despite the controversy with the test results and the decorated legal help the receiver brought with him to fight the suspension. With the NFL now telling people they won’t tolerate incidents like Rice’s in the future, they possibly could avoid the heavy criticism they would’ve received by suspending Gordon for a full year.
It’s a shame, really, merely because new policies for future domestic abuse incidents don’t erase how weakly the league came down on Rice. It also doesn’t excuse the fact that Gordon, despite passing over 70 drug tests, is now likely to miss an entire year of football. His suspension will begin as soon as it is issued, meaning that, if it comes tomorrow, he’ll be out until the middle of preseason next year.
Of course, Gordon is hardly a martyr here. He put himself in this position by failing substance policies in college and the pros. The only reason he’s up for a full-year ban is due to the fact he landed himself in Stage III of the league’s drug program.
Still, there’s no getting around the fact Gordon is slowly losing leverage. Had the NFL not leaked this story of new domestic abuse policies in the works, he would’ve had plenty of support in his corner. Now, it looks like the league took a step towards protecting themselves so, when they do punish Gordon, they won’t be as scrutinized.