Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has been suspended by the NFL after failing a substance abuse test administered in January.
After being issued a non-drinking stipulation by the league, Gordon tested positive for having alcohol in his system. This is the third time that Gordon has been suspended in as many years, causing aggravation in the offices of an organization that has had its fair share of players with off the field character issues.
“As we have conveyed, we are disappointed to once again be at this point with Josh,” said Browns general manager Ray Farmer through a statement. “Throughout his career we have tried to assist him in getting support like we would with any member of our organization. Unfortunately our efforts have not resonated with him. It is evident that Josh needs to make some substantial strides to live up to the positive culture we are trying to build this football team upon.”
This suspension creates another hole in the Browns offense, one they will try to patch up this offseason. Gordon leaves the Browns once again without a consistent producer at the wide receiver position. Gordon caught 87 passes for 1,646 yards and 9 touchdowns in 14 games during the 2013 season.
The suspension has journalists and sports analysts around the country wondering not only if this suspension marks the end of Gordon’s career as a Brown, but also the end of his NFL career. Teams are wary to pick up players with character issues, and as a result Gordon may simply not be signed by any team if the Browns decide to release the wide receiver once he serves his suspension.
This suspension comes at an inopportune time for the Browns, as they are trying to make a decision on who will be the starting quarterback of their team next year, the two main candidates being: Brian Hoyer, who is going to test the free agent market, and Johnny Manziel, the troubled former college star who recently admitted himself into rehab.
Gordon’s suspension once again brings about the discussion of the NFL’s discipline policy. Suspending a player for an entire season just because he had a couple drinks seems like overkill for some, but to others it is showing the young player that he has to follow the rules, or there will be extreme consequences.
One of the largest criticisms of the NFL’s discipline policy is the comparison between drug suspensions and suspensions related to other violations. Last year Josh Gordon initially received a full season suspension, while other players, such as Ray Rice, were committing violent offenses and receiving minimal suspensions or fines for their actions.
Josh Gordon himself criticized the NFL’s decision to suspend him for an entire year, stating: “Did I think it was hypocritical that a professional league making hundreds of millions of dollars off beer sponsorships was telling me not to drink? Yes.”
Gordon is right. It is hypocritical of a league that makes millions of dollars on alcohol related advertisements to prohibit a player from drinking alcohol, especially without failing to inform the player of the full parameters of his probation, leading him to believe his probation ended at the end of Browns’ season.
After yet another drug related suspension, it has become clear that the NFL has not done enough to readjust their priorities when it comes to discipline. Regardless of their revamped domestic abuse policy, is it really acceptable to suspend a player for an entire season because of a couple beers and two drinks, pushing him to only .01% over the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle, while Greg Hardy had to be suspended by his own team for being charged with domestic violence after the league failed to take action?
Whether you believe that Josh Gordon was wrongfully suspended or that the wide receiver is getting what he deserves, everyone can look at the discipline policy of the NFL and realize that it is a flawed system that levies too much punishment on certain crimes when these punishments are compared to crimes of a more severe nature.
By JACOB RUSSO / Contributing Writer