NFL makes right call on Gordon

The star wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns has been given a year-long ban from the league after once again violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He can apply for reinstatement in 2015, but as for this season, the Browns are left without by far their best player.

Gordon’s violation was announced back in May during the second day of the NFL Draft but because Gordon chose to appeal his suspension, a final decision was not announced until this week.

Unfortunately for Gordon, the Browns and their fans, the appeal was unsuccessful. Fans and analysts had speculated that he may receive a reduced penalty following the appeal, but the NFL stuck by its policy. For someone like Gordon who had already been suspended once in the NFL and been essentially kicked out of Baylor for failing multiple drug tests, the NFL was unlikely to show much leniency.

And that’s the right call.

Some people thought the NFL might cut him some slack since he “barely” failed his drug test. Gordon, who is in stage three of the NFL’s drug program, had allegedly passed at least 70 drug tests since 2013 before his failed test was announced in May. When the results of that failed test went public, it was revealed that the amount of marijuana in Gordon’s system was 16 nanograms per milliliter, just a single nanogram above the NFL’s threshold of 15. He claimed it was from second-hand smoke, but that argument clearly did not hold up.

Another popular opinion right now is that Gordon can’t possibly get tossed for a year for smoking weed after Ray Rice knocked his wife unconscious and only got a two game suspension.

“Gordon should have just hit his wife,” people are sarcastically saying on social media.

Look, I get both of those points.

The NFL’s threshold of 15 ng/ml is actually very strict compared to other organizations. For example, the threshold for Olympic athletes is actually 150, 10 times higher than the NFL’s. Gordon wouldn’t have come close to violating that, so the argument that the NFL’s drug policy should be adjusted is valid.

But that doesn’t excuse Gordon’s actions. He knew what he was up against and knew what the consequences would be if he had another failure. He was simply careless.

If you knew you were in line for a huge pay-raise at work and all you had to do was not test positive for a certain substance, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to avoid coming in contact with that substance?

Even if Gordon’s failed test was the result of second-hand smoke, putting himself in position for that to happen was very poor judgment.

Now he has a year to think about his actions and what he wants to get out of his future in professional football. Whether or not he is reinstated into the league depends on his actions during the suspension. It seems unlikely that he can get through a whole year without another failed test. The guy clearly has a problem and needs help, which is why the NFL’s punishment was probably the best thing for him. Hopefully this is the wakeup call he needed.

Jordan Holland is a sport writer for The Marietta Times. He can be reached at 740-376-5449 or at jholland@mariettatimes.com.