After being suspended for the entire 2015 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon applied for reinstatement on Jan. 20. The NFL’s policy seemed to suggest to suggest the league had to rule on the issue within 60 days, and Browns fans have been counting down ever since. Well Sunday marked 60 days since that proclamation, and the NFL has decided… nothing.
Here’s what an NFL spokesman told ESPN’s Field Yates:
“There is no requirement that a reinstatement decision be made in 60 days. We endeavor to develop the necessary information to make a decision in that timeframe, but the actual decisions are made when appropriate.”
It’s important to remember that Gordon’s crime here wasn’t murder or rape, it was (repeatedly) smoking marijuana, an “offense” that is legal in four U.S. states and totally commonplace in the NFL. While a number of current and former stars — including Jake Plummer, Eugene Monroe, Ricky Williams and Jim McMahon — campaign for research into marijuana’s health benefits for football players, Gordon can’t even get reinstated after a draconian yearlong suspension.
Every day Gordon remains suspended is further indication that the NFL treats recreational drug use as a cardinal sin, even when the rest of the country seems to be lightening up the righteous outrage against stuff you smoke or snort. Plus, the longer Gordon is held away from football the less chance there is that his team wants him back. Via ESPN, here’s what Browns director of football operations Sashi Brown has to say about the situation.
“Any time we’ve got a player that’s been suspended for that amount of time and had some of the challenges Josh has had thus far in his career, you need to sit down with him and understand where his head is before you bring him back into your locker room,” Brown said. “From everyone I’ve heard, Josh is eager to get back and start playing.”
Playing with the Browns or playing in general?
“Start playing, and you shouldn’t read anything into that one way or the other,” he said. “We had some discussions with his representatives at the combine, so we would sit down with him and see where his head is and go from there. The first step, though, obviously is he’s got to be reinstated.
Gordon claims he does not have any sort of drug problem and that this most recent substance abuse violation was the result of him inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke. Whether or not that’s true, it’s past time to let this guy onto the field. The NFL shouldn’t need 60 days to make this decision, let alone more than that.