The Washington Post

Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon loses appeal, suspended one year by NFL

Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon participated in organized team activities in June, above, and has been active in Cleveland’s training camp. (Mark Duncan/Associated Press)

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has learned when and for how long he will be suspended by the NFL: Gordon will miss the entire season.

The league announced that it had denied Gordon’s appeal of a year-long suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy and the punishment takes effect immediately. Gordon cannot practice with the team or attend team meetings and functions. In a bit of a deviation from the substance-abuse policy, arbitrator Harold Henderson determined that Gordon can apply for reinstatement after the 2014 season, rather than serving a full one-year suspension.

“I’d like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Cleveland Browns organization and our fans,” Gordon said in a statement distributed by the NFL Players Association. “I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn’t exercise better discretion and judgment in my case. I would like to sincerely thank the people who have been incredibly supportive of me during this challenging time, including my family, my agent, my union, my legal team, and the Cleveland Browns staff.”

Gordon, who led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,646 over 14 games last season, was suspended for two games and forfeited four game checks for failing a drug test — which was at least his second violation of league policy.  Gordon said he accidentally took cough syrup containing codeine.

Although the NFL does not release details of failed drug tests, reports that Gordon tested positive for marijuana use and learned that he would be suspended months ago. He appealed Aug. 1, with his lawyers arguing  that second-hand smoke contributed to his positive test. They also argued that the A and B specimens of the test were inconsistent. NFL suspensions are rarely overturned on appeal, though.

The suspension already has reignited the debate over how the NFL determines penalties, particularly because of the two-game suspension given the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice for a domestic incident. Punishment is part of the collective bargaining agreement, though, so changes will have to be negotiated.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.



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