Martavis Bryant, one of the NFL’s most dynamic wide receivers, will enter rehab and be evaluated for depression symptoms as he faces a one-year suspension from the league for violating the substance-abuse policy.
The Pittsburgh Steelers player, who was suspended four games last year, is appealing the suspension, which his agent says said is “a cry for help” and is the result of multiple missed drug tests.
“We’re all stunned, me included,” agent Brian Fettner told USA Today. “We clearly miscalculated the issue. His isn’t a party issue. It’s a coping issue and a depression issue, and he’s got to take care of it.”
In 21 regular-season games, Bryant has caught 76 passes for 1,314 yards and 14 touchdowns. In three postseason games, he has caught 19 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger challenged Bryant to “toughen up” before the playoffs in January and Bryant stepped up with one of the most spectacular catches of the playoffs. Although it was ruled a touchdown, an NFL official later said it should not have been.
— theScore (@theScore) January 10, 2016
If his appeal is turned down, Bryant would have to appeal to Commissioner Roger Goodell for reinstatement in no less than one calendar year.
“This is a long road to earn people’s trust back, but honestly, we can’t even worry about that right now,” Fettner said. “You’ve got to get him healthy.”
During his suspension last year, Bryant spent three weeks in Houston with John Lucas, the former NBA player who is now a substance-abuse counselor.
“I learned a lot about myself, especially from the mistake I made,” Bryant said in October when he returned to the team (via Post-Gazette.com). “Now I just want to move forward and put everything in the past and work on becoming a better man and a better football player.”