At last, we know.
More than three months after reports surfaced that the NFL was suspending Browns receiver Josh Gordon for a year for violating the substance abuse policy, the league upheld that suspension Tuesday.
"I'd like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Cleveland Browns organization and our fans," Gordon said in a statement through the NFLPA. "I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn't exercise better discretion and judgment in my case. I would like to sincerely thank the people who have been incredibly supportive of me during this challenging time, including my family, my agent, my union, my legal team, and the Cleveland Browns staff."
Notice this line in Gordon's statement: "I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn't exercise better discretion and judgment in my case."
That must stem from the NFL deciding that Gordon's appeal wasn't convincing. Gordon reportedly told the league that the positive drug test was the result of second-hand marijuana smoke. He also pointed out that his failed "A" sample was only one nanogram per milliliter above the league's threshold of 15 nanograms per milliliter while the "B" sample measured below the threshold at 13.63.
Gordon was suspended last year for two games for breaking the league's rules -- Gordon said he used a cough medicine that contained codeine -- but he still managed to lead the NFL in receiving yards. In May, though, it was reported that Gordon had failed yet another drug test and would lose a year.
On Wednesday, the league confirmed it.
"Appeals officer Harold Henderson has upheld the suspension for the 2014 NFL season of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. The suspension is effective immediately," the league said in a statement.
The Browns have to be worried about Gordon's future without the structure of his team around him, particularly since he's failed multiple drug tests and was charged with a DUI this offseason.
"While we may have strong feelings on the timing and the process of this decision, we have also consistently communicated that we will focus on what we can control in our day to day approach," Browns general manager Ray Farmer said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. "Right now that is preparing our team for the 2014 season and at the same time, supporting Josh however we are able under NFL guidelines during his suspension."
Said coach Mike Pettine: "We will continue to support Josh and we understand that there is accountability for one's actions. Our job and that of the team is to focus on what we can control. Our philosophy in building this team and the mentality we're establishing is that we're going to have to overcome challenges and situations throughout the course of a season. We'll continue to be relentless in our approach, in how we work and focus on our goal of returning winning football to Cleveland."
Reportedly, the team tried to convince the league that Gordon should still be allowed to be around team headquarters during the ban, but NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reports the league denied that request.
Still, all hope is not lost for Gordon
While technically a year suspension, NFL will usually grant reinstatement before training camp if it sees progress/rehab/etc.— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) August 27, 2014
But obviously, he won't be of any help to a Browns squad that could really use the offensive support this season.
“We support him," quarterback Brian Hoyer said last month, via the Akron Beacon Journal. “We know the type of person Josh is on and off the field and what he's capable of, and we're here for him. When someone does something wrong, you can't cast them to the side. We know how important he is to the organization. I'm sure if you ask any of these guys, we're here to support him in any way possible."
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