If you’re an NFL fan then you’re certainly aware by now that oft-troubled Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon failed a recent drug test that was administered during his indefinite suspension from the NFL. You might have also heard by now that the NFL wants Gordon to go two to three months without another “red flag” test before he is reinstated to the NFL. Frankly, that makes no sense.
While I’m all for the NFL continuing to phase out punishment for marijuana, which is increasingly legal in various ways across the country, the thought process here just doesn’t add up.
Presumably Gordon has been tested likely dozens of times during his most recent absences from the NFL. Presumably Gordon also — since no reports have leaked to the contrary — tested negative for all drugs up until the most recent test (which should be noted, showed marijuana at less than the new NFL threshold, but also was considered a diluted sample, which is the same as a failed test). So the question becomes, why doesn’t the NFL make a decision now? Clearly Gordon had managed to either stay clean or at least avoid detection for the past four to six months. So what makes the NFL think Gordon won’t manage to stay clean for two to three months, get reinstated, and then test positive again?
Why not just come down with a hard line stance one way or another? Either the NFL cares about marijuana or it doesn’t. If it does, then a so-called red flag test should mean more than just telling someone they have to stay clean for a few months, especially when that person has shown a propensity for drug use. Likewise, if the league doesn’t care about Gordon’s most recent failed test for pot, then why not make a reinstatement decision now with the obvious restrictions that future failed tests will result in punishment (unless the league ends marijuana punishment altogether).
The point is, the league is being passive and trying to play both sides. It’s clear the league realizes that marijuana usage — including legal usage in many states — is being more prevalent and fans in general don’t care if a player spends their personal time using the drug. But they’re also clearly not ready to go so far as to just look the other way entirely and end the league’s ban altogether. At this point that would be their best move though, otherwise we might see many more “stay clean for a few months” cases in the near future.
Edit: And it looks like I wasn’t the only one to have such a thought. Mike Florio and PFT beat me to the punch. I’d say great minds think alike, but you probably think we’re both idiots.