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Josh Gordon's suspension: Double standards, CFL, and who to blame

Suspended for the entire year, what kind of options does Josh Gordon have?
Suspended for the entire year, what kind of options does Josh Gordon have?
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Josh Gordon’s appeal to not be suspended for the entire 2014 season has been denied by the NFL. The Cleveland Browns fantasy football stud and first wide receiver in the history of the league to have over 200 yards in consecutive games will not have another stellar year. Claiming that his positive urinalysis came from second-hand marijuana smoke, Roger Goodell and the NFL decided that Gordon’s excuse wasn’t good enough and upheld his yearlong suspension on Wednesday.

You might remember a similar suspension last year, where the NFL suspended Gordon for the first two games of the 2013 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. With a second consecutive drug-related incident, the NFL handed down the lengthy suspension to the 23-year-old receiver. Gordon will lose roughly $1.4 million worth of game checks and must apply for reinstatement when the 2014 season is over.

A lot of football fans are taking to social media in outrage over the double standards that exist in the NFL. In comparison to Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice, who is suspended for the first two games of this season for knocking his now wife unconscious and dragging her out of an Atlantic City casino by her hair, Gordon’s punishment is unjustly excessive. When victimless crimes are hit with a harder penalty than spousal abuse, something is wrong with the way the NFL hands down its suspensions.

Gordon attests his positive sample came from second hand smoke, and he’s willing to take the NFL to court over his findings. He provided two samples, the THC in his first sample was “above the limit” of what would determine a positive drug screening while the second was below that limit. Gordon and his lawyer presented this evidence to the NFL during his appeal, but it was not enough to overturn their decision. If a lawsuit is filed against the NFL, it wouldn’t guarantee last year’s top receiver a delayed punishment.

Gordon is currently exploring options to play in the Canadian Football League, but this option is also unobtainable. According to the CFL’s rules, any player that is suspended by a different league or under contract with another league, such as the NFL, a CFL team would be disallowed from signing such a player. Although Gordon would make a fine addition to any team, in the U.S. or Canada, he will not be able to even though there is definite interest from north of the border.

Understandably so, Gordon’s suspension is unfair. Even though he has a ton of support pouring in, he has no one to blame but himself. Maybe he did inhale some second hand smoke, but why even be around a burning blunt in the first place with so much to lose? With a suspension already under his name from using a banned substance, also claiming to be unbeknownst to him, Gordon had one job, which was to stay away from any substance that might jeopardize his paycheck and his playing time; he failed.

With the support for the legalization of marijuana growing at a higher nationwide acceptance, the NFL could find it wise to loosen up on their policies regarding the recreational drug. That said, players in similar situations as Gordon would find it even wiser to lay off this stuff until their career is over. Why risk millions of dollars? This is a no-win scenario for all; Gordon doesn’t get to play, the fans don’t get to watch him play and the NFL will lose money with him absent from football Sundays.

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