Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon, who has been suspended for the past year, applied for NFL reinstatement on Wednesday. Gordon was suspended indefinitely by the league on Feb. 3, 2015 after his third violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy—he failed a test for alcohol during the 2014 season after he had previously agreed to alcohol testing as a condition of his reinstatement to the league following a DWI arrest in 2014.
The Browns certainly assumed the risk this was a possibility when they drafted Gordon—while in college, Gordon’s rap sheet included a history of marijuana-related suspensions. His arrival in the NFL was warm welcomed, in 2013, he led the league in receiving yards, despite playing just 14 games.
ESPN was the first to report Gordon’s formal action of application, but the 24-year-old is yet to release a public statement. He is still under contract with the Browns, and if granted reinstatement, he would become a restricted free agent in 2017. After serving his one-year suspension, Gordon forfeited $1.07 million in salary and part of his signing bonus. The NFL is required to respond to his petition within 60 days of its filing.
In order to be granted reinstatement, Gordon will have to interview with the league’s medical director, and demonstrate rehabilitation. He’ll likely meet with NFL Medical Director Dr. J. Richard Spatafora and Medical Advisor Dr. Lawrence Brown. The league’s official policy states the following:
The Player will execute appropriate medical release forms that will enable the Commissioner’s staff and NFLPA Executive Director’s staff to review the Player’s substance abuse history, including but not limited to attendance at counseling sessions (individual, group and family); attendance at 12-step and other self-help group meetings; periodic progress reports; and all diagnostic findings and treatment recommendations.
League spokesman Greg Aiello wrote, “to be reinstated, a player must demonstrate sustained abstinence. In support of their applications, players generally put forward verifiable testing records and/or submit to periodic NFL testing during the banishment period,” in an email response to the reported reinstatement application.
Newly minted head coach Hue Jackson was as tight-lipped about the Gordon matter as he was previously with embattled quarterback Johnny Manziel. Jackson was non-committal about Gordon’s future with the team, saying the reinstatement was the first part of the process. “What I’m anxious to do is evaluate him just like we’re going to evaluate every player on our roster and see if they are the right fit for the Cleveland Browns,” Jackson said. “That’s what we have to do with every player, whether that’s Josh Gordon to whoever the last guy is on the roster.”
David Barclay is an NFL Insider for byteclay.com. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @DJamesIII