According to TSN on Thursday, the Cleveland Browns are not allowing Josh Gordon to play for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League while he remains under contract with the team. Gordon had expressed a desire to play for the Stampeders this season while he was serving a one year suspension for violating the National Football League's substance abuse policy.
Gordon's CFL negotiating rights belongs to Calgary, who at 7-1, currently lead the Western Division with the Edmonton Eskimos. The two leaders are set for back-to-back games beginning Monday at McMahon Stadium in Calgary followed by a rematch at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Saturday.
Gordon is not the first player to express interest in coming to the CFL while being suspended by the NFL. In 2006, running back Ricky Williams played for the Toronto Argonauts while he was being suspended by the NFL for a full season. Williams, who was representing the Miami Dolphins, had violated the NFL drug policy for a fourth time.
The major difference between Gordon's case and Williams' case is that the Dolphins allowed Williams to play for the Argonauts on the condition he would return to them in 2007, while the Browns are not agreeable to fulfill Gordon's request to play in Canada for the rest of 2014.
Gordon meanwhile is an elite NFL wide receiver. He led the NFL with 1646 receiving yards last season, and the Browns will severely miss him as they try to compete in a very difficult AFC North that includes the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers. Gordon also misses a full year participating in game situations with quarterback Johnny Manziel, who the Browns selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.
Manziel may not be the Browns starting quarterback to begin the season however. Cleveland might be going with sixth year quarterback Brian Hoyer instead, who has played a career 18 games with the New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals and Browns.
Gordon meanwhile is expected to explore his legal options. In addition to his suspension, Gordon will not be paid his salary of $825,604.