(Josh Gordon photo courtesy of Cleveland Browns)
TALK OF FAME NETWORK
By Ron Borges
Josh Gordon is an enigma. No one would quarrel with that assessment. What one can quarrel with is the maddeningly enigmatic way the NFL is handling his apparent obsession with mellowing out on marijuana.
Gordon is a supremely talented dope smoker who once played wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. Two years ago, in only his second season in the league, Gordon caught 87 passes and lugged them for 1,646 yards, an average of 18.9 yards per catch.
He was like a Vegas casino – always open. He also was, and very likely still is, one of the half-dozen best receivers in the game.
Unfortunately, repeated positive drug tests kept getting him suspended until he finally was banned for life with the ability to apply for reinstatement after a year. This he did, but he managed to violate the NFL’s arcane drug laws before the league even had time to lift his suspension when he submitted a diluted urine sample with traces of marijuana in it. Those traces were in and of themselves not enough to trigger a positive drug test, but a diluted sample, which is considered an effort to mask the presence of a banned substance, is equivalent to a positive test.
Not surprisingly, commissioner Judge Roy Bean (aka Roger Goodell) refused to reinstate Gordon, but the word around the league is if he can stay clean for 60 to 90 days he will be reinstated by August 1, in plenty of time to be ready for the upcoming season.
This seems an odd position for the league to take any way you look at it. First, had Gordon already been off suspension, the diluted sample would have sat him down for at least another year with a second lifetime ban. Second, how does the NFL justify a system where a guy like Josh Gordon is quietly smoking dope in his house and not getting in any trouble until handed a urine sample cup out for life while Greg Hardy is eligible to play after allegedly beating and threatening his girlfriend and being convicted by a Carolina judge on those charges?
Most absurdly, the NFL seems obsessed with suspending its players for smoking weed at a time when marijuana use is increasingly becoming legal throughout the country. The NBA, for example, admits it has little interest in busting its players for smoking weed, focusing instead on performance-enhancing drugs and opiates.
Consistency is not one of the NFL’s strong points these days when it comes to player discipline. Its inconsistency on drug use in particular is not something it should be proud of, either, especially when it comes to its policy on marijuana.
Truth be told, if the NFL drug tested its players on Sundays it would find a high percentage testing positive for things that would disqualify them from running in the Kentucky Derby! Powerful pain killers, anti-inflammatories like butazolidin, Lord knows what else. Apparently, the NFL has no problem with drugs, as long as they’re the ones administering them, and they’re used to allow players to play with broken bones, sprained and torn joints and throbbing knees, shoulders, necks and ankles.
But smoke a joint or two, and you can be banned for life? Sort of? The hypocrisy of such a policy should be obvious.
Now that doesn’t mean Josh Gordon isn’t an irresponsible young man in danger of ruining his career through his own missteps. It just means ill-advised behavior and absurd conduct aren’t exclusively his domain.
Lump the NFL and its outdated marijuana policy, its “lifetime bans’’ that aren’t and its Sunday afternoon legalized opiate dens right there with him.