Josh Gordon Disappointed With NFL's Year-Long Ban, Will Seek Litigation In Response
Browns WR Josh Gordon "has been banned from the NFL for at least a season because he violated its substance-abuse policy again," but Gordon's camp is "considering litigation in response," according to a front-page piece by Nate Ulrich of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL. There is "precedent for players receiving an injunction to put suspensions on hold while the legal process unfolds," but whether Gordon "takes the fight to court remains to be seen." Gordon in a statement said, "I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn’t exercise better discretion and judgment in my case." Ulrich notes for the most part, Gordon "must stay away from the Browns’ headquarters in Berea during the ban, meaning he cannot practice, work out or attend meetings with the team." According to the substance-abuse policy, he can "only be at the facility to meet with his clinician and must vacate immediately after termination of the treatment session" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/28). FS1's Mike Garafolo said Gordon's immediate goal should he sue the league is to "seek an injunction that would postpone the suspension until the legal process is complete." But Garafolo noted the NFL basically said, "If you play nice, if you don’t sue and you everything we ask of you we could reinstate you as early as this spring." Garafolo: "The NFL is sending a clear message to Josh Gordon: We don’t want you to sue us, we want you to just take the suspension and move on here" ("Fox Sports Live," FS1, 8/27). In Cleveland, Mary Kay Cabot cited a source as saying Gordon "has no shot of having the suspension overturned in court" (CLEVELAND.com, 8/27).
POLICY IS CUT AND DRY: ESPN's Tony Kornheiser noted critics are "going to look at what happened to Ray Rice with two games and they're going to say, 'How can you give this guy the whole season?'" Kornheiser: "This is apples and oranges. There is a clear policy written in the contracts for drug abuse." ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "If you want to argue that Ray Rice should get more time, knock yourself out, be my guest. It doesn't mean Josh Gordon should get off" ("PTI," ESPN, 8/27). ESPN's Jackie MacMullan said "we all know the NFL blew" the Rice case, the league "can't turn around and say, 'You know what, you know that drug policy we told you should be tougher? Now that you've made it tougher we've decided we don’t like the way you've enforced that so can you make that less tough.' It just doesn’t work that way" ("Around The Horn,"ESPN, 8/27). S.F. Chronicle's Ann Killion said because the CBA mandates a year-long suspension for Gordon, Goodell "could say, 'My hands are tied in this case.'" She said the "biggest issue I have is … how it relates" to the Rice case because "there is no mandate on domestic violence." Killion: "You can still do the right thing" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 8/27).
SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES: ESPN's J.A. Adande wondered why the NFL is "sticking to" a year-long suspension in the Gordon case "when they seem to be so clueless with the Ray Rice suspension" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/27). In Cleveland, Bill Livingston writes, "A one-year suspension? Really? Take a bow, NFL. Reefer madness is not going to occur on Roger Goodell's watch, boy." The NFL "got it late, got it wrong and got it with a heavy hand" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/28). Also in Cleveland, Jeff Darcy writes there is "no denying Gordon broke NFL rules by 'failing' one out of a reported 71 recent random drug tests," and there is "no denying NFL rules are severely broken." But the NFL's suspensions of Gordon and Rice "do not even come close to fitting the crimes and send a horrible message to women and NFL players." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and arbitrator Harold Henderson's rulings affirm NFL players are better off "knocking a woman unconscious than taking a hit off a joint or inhaling second hand smoke." Goodell and Henderson "need to suspend themselves for unsportsmanlike behavior detrimental to women, player health, the league, and judicious discernment" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/28).
POT CALLING THE KETTLE: ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky noted when President Obama earlier this year said that he "does not think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, his words resonated with NFL players." In a survey of 100 NFLers, 75% of the 82 who answered "said they agree with Obama's statement" (ESPN.com, 8/27). ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert wrote under the header, "Marijuana Policy Is Behind Times." As more states "legalize marijuana for medicinal and/or recreational use, is the league's testing and discipline growing disproportionate?" The NFL's "position on marijuana has lost some relevance," and is "extreme at a time when two states have legalized marijuana for recreational use." Reducing and/or "eliminating discipline is a good start, but the league should also embrace the possibility of a therapeutic role as well" (ESPN.com, 8/27).