May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on stage during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Spectrum of Opinions On Josh Gordon Suspension

Sometime this morning Josh Gordon will meet with a 3 person appeal panel related to his reported one year suspension for violating the recreational drug policy. We have reviewed a variety of issues that have popped up in preparation for this hearing. What we understand is that following this appeal hearing Gordon will still meet with Roger Goodell next week. Whether the appeal board or Goodell has the final say is an interesting dynamic as most understand the power at Goodell’s hand. It begs the question what the point of the panel then is.

What is more interesting at this point is the spectrum of opinions of what will happen to Gordon. From no suspension, to a reduced suspension to a full year, we have heard all variations from all over sports media. Most are going off what they are getting from some source or informant. The wide spectrum has led to ebb and flow of hope and despair among fans. Even some sites have posted different opinions in a short amount of time. Let us take a look at some of this spectrum:

Matt does a great job on the draft and has sources in the NFL. Obviously he is just reporting what he hears but from those in the league it is interesting what they are expecting.

Josh Gordon’s legal advisors feels their “second-hand smoke” argument is stronger than other NFL players who have lost their appeals on that basis, a source told cleveland.com.

So Mary Kay Cabot hears that Gordon’s people believe their case is strong. While the NFL released a statement that a player is responsible for what is in their body, Gordon’s team still feels confident in their case.

It’s still a longshot to get Gordon off the hook from his indefinite ban after his appeal hearing, a league source with firsthand knowledge of the situation told NEOMG.

Yet in a different Cabot report the above quote is pulled. Obviously the information comes from different sources. Yet some have thought a reduced suspension is likely as the league and Player’s Association negotiate a number of other issues. Pro Football Talk has a differing thought:

“The disciplinary penalties were negotiated by the NFLPA and NFL more than 20 years ago and there has never been a proposal to change them,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy tells PFT via email.  “When they were first established, the union expressed the strong view that they needed to be stated and mandatory to ensure that all players be treated the same regardless of position, experience, level of ability, or competitive considerations.  On appeal, the hearing officer’s responsibility is to determine whether the violation was established and, if so, he is bound by the agreed-upon sanctions.”

For Gordon, then, only two options exist:  full-year suspension or no suspension at all.

So for those hoping for a 6 to 8 game suspension it seems like the NFL spokesman and PFT is throwing cold water on your hopes. Yet it also means that if Gordon plays this year it will be for the whole season, until Goodell moves in with a suspension for his DWI.  Terry Pluto had some strong thoughts on the Gordon suspension and hoping for a reduced sentence as well:

None of this is to excuse Gordon. He should face a suspension, perhaps the same as last season (two games, four game checks). Or maybe a bit longer if there are other facts in this story that are not known. The league can also attach requirements such as Gordon’s receiving treatment.

I’m not even going to dwell on the NFL’s ridiculously soft two-game penalty for Baltimore’s Ray Rice assaulting his wife.

The circumstances of Gordon’s story don’t even come close to meriting a full-season suspension. Nor is that a way to help Gordon.

If the NFL simply uses some common sense, they will agree there are better methods for dealing with Gordon than booting him out of the league for a year.

And Pluto and fans may get their wish as Gordon’s case may be one of the strongest the NFL has faced related to their positives. If there was no collection issue the league has to figure out what to do with those two disparate tests as the Washington Post discusses:

Gordon submits urine samples, which are then divided into two containers, randomly marked either A or B. If the A sample reveals a substance amount higher than the threshold — 15 nanograms per milliliter — then the B sample is tested. Apparently, the B sample doesn’t even have to also register above the threshold, it just needs to have a detectable amount of the substance in question.

That’s what reportedly happened in Gordon’s case. His A sample registered slightly above 15 ng/ml at 16, while the B sample came in at 13.6. If the samples had been randomly marked the other way, so that the sample at 13.6 ng/ml was tested first, Gordon wouldn’t even have failed at all.

We share all of this to highlight the fact that this case doesn’t seem black and white. We are all left guessing. We are all left discussing what we think should happen. We are left to compare it to the Rice situation. Either fortunately or unfortunately, depending on the results, all policy and procedure is written to draw lines in the sand. Is Gordon considered, based on the policy, on one side of the sand or the other? That will decide his punishment. Well that and Roger Goodell whose power supersedes pretty much everything in the NFL. For that reason also expect Gordon to go outside of the NFL to the legal system to get this resolved. That process in and of itself will likely allow Gordon to play this season.

How are you feeling before the appeal and Goodell meetings? 

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