“I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn’t exercise better judgment in my case.”
Those words were taken directly from Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon’s statement after arbitrator Harold Henderson upheld Gordon’s season-long suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Let’s just get this out of the way. Gordon is not completely a victim here. He is the idiot that knew exactly the precarious situation he was in when it comes to what goes into his body, and who he surrounds himself with. But in this case, he has every right to feel hard done by.
This also only partly has to do with the two game suspension that Ray Rice got for brutally beating his now wife on camera. It also only partly has to do with the ludicrous four game suspension Matt Prater got for allegedly consuming beer in the privacy and safety of his own living room. And it only partly has to do with the fact that Ndmukong Suh has somehow not been banned for life yet despite repeatedly and deliberately trying to cause life-altering harm to opposing quarterbacks with hits egregiously outside of what is allowed by NFL rules.
You really only have to look at the fact that after Gordon’s suspension for the 2014 season has been completed, he can “apply for reinstatement.” Really?
How hard would it have been to say, “The NFL disciplinary morons, er, powers that be have decided to suspend Josh Gordon for all regular season and playoff games in the coming NFL season. After this suspension has been completed, provided that Mr. Gordon has not found himself in any more trouble with the law, and has strictly observed the NFL’s code of conduct to the same standard that is expected of all its players and employees, he will be able to resume playing professionally in the NFL. If Mr. Gordon fails to avoid legal trouble or otherwise transgresses the code of conduct, additional discipline may be applied.” Or something like that, anyway.
You may agree with my statement, you may wholly disagree with it. You may be able to nitipick some grammar, or perhaps find some other kind of flaw. But I intentionally battered through it in less than a minute, without a law degree for that matter, to prove a point. It took the league four months to decide what to do with Gordon. That’s a really long time to have something hanging over a young man’s head, not to mention his entire team that was depending heavily on his contributions. Four months. And the best they could do was say, “hey, after this year is up, feel free to reapply and if our confederacy of dunces decides you are worthy, maybe we’ll let you back into our club.”
I have to commend Gordon on one thing. Restraint. And while I’m sure he was coached through his statement, mine would only have contained two words, the second of which being “you.”
This is a multi-billion dollar brand, people. You’d think they could get their act together, especially in the embarrassing wake of them screwing up the concussion issue so badly. But no, they truly remain the circular firing squad they’ve been for all recent memory. Two games. Four games. 16 games. It doesn’t matter. They don’t have a clue.