There is still no resolution to the saga starring Browns All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon, but apparently there is progress.
Gordon, the Browns and their fans have been playing an exhausting waiting game since ESPN reported on May 9 that the Pro Bowler tested positive for marijuana and faces a potential season-long ban.
Well, Gordon’s appeal hearing has finally been scheduled, ProFootballTalk.com reported today. It’s set for late July, according to the report.
Browns coach Mike Pettine expects the league to make a decision before the team begins training camp July 26.
“I think that’s reasonable to say,” Pettine said June 12 as mandatory minicamp wrapped up. “We haven’t been given a date. I think, in fairness to us, the league would let us know. There’s no information as far as what the plans are to release it, but I think we’re all comfortable thinking that we should know before training camp starts.”
Gordon, 23, was suspended two games and docked four game checks last season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy so another violation could result in a yearlong ban from the league. If that ends up being the case, Gordon wouldn’t be eligible to apply for reinstatement with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell until a year from when the punishment is handed down.
Of course, the league and NFL Players Association could still agree to a reduced suspension before a hearing takes place.
The difference between a ban of at least a year and a partial-season suspension would be significant for reasons other than whether Gordon is allowed to play in 2014.
According to the terms of the policy, a player who’s banned for at least a year can only be at his team’s facility to meet with his clinician and must vacate immediately thereafter. A player who’s suspended for less than a season can participate in all preseason activities, including exhibition games. Once the suspension starts, the player’s contact with the team is at the club’s discretion. He can attend meetings and work out, but he cannot attend practices or games.
Suspensions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. But for what it's worth, the league announced today that it has banned Indianapolis Colts wide receiver LaVon Brazil for at least a year for violating its substance-abuse policy. He was suspended for the first four games of last season for violating the same policy.
The Browns hope Gordon can avoid a similar fate.