Josh Gordon’s Substance Abuse in the NFL

Josh Gordon’s Substance Abuse in the NFL

With two states legalizing marijuana, should the NFL be able to suspend a player for a year over a failed marijuana test?

What do you think will happen with marijuana and the NFL?

My fantasy football teams have been drafted, the smack talk has been spoken and now it’s time for the NFL football season to start. This week, football teams all over the county will be kicking off and I can’t wait.

As a Detroit Lions’ fan, I am looking forward to all that this upcoming season has to offer: Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and the new coach, Jim Caldwell. The Lions should provide the exciting season we’ve all been waiting for.

One player that I was looking forward to watching was Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns. If you haven’t heard yet, we won’t be seeing him on the field this year.

Last year, Josh Gordon led the entire NFL in receiving yards: 1,646 yards. That is an average of 19 yards per catch. He even beat Detroit’s Calvin Johnson in receiving yards by 154 yards, and that was with Gordon’s two-game suspension.

It’s easy to see that this twenty-three year old has talent and is exciting to watch. The only problem is that Josh Gordon has also received multiple suspensions for substance abuse and failed drug tests.

Josh Gordon’s History of Substance Abuse

While media all over is jumping on this particular suspension for Josh Gordon, this isn’t his first run in.

Back when Gordon attended Baylor University, he failed multiple drug tests. This included, according to, a positive marijuana test. The failed tests lead him to leave school early and enter into the NFL through the supplemental draft.

Last season, Gordon was required to sit on the bench for two games due to what he said was a positive test for Codeine – a prescription cough syrup.

Back in May, two days into the NFL draft, news came out about another failed drug test and an impending suspension. The Browns and probably all of Ohio have been waiting to hear what kind of suspension he would face.

According to the drug Gordon tested positive for was marijuana.

While his current suspension was pending, Gordon was charged with driving while intoxicated after being arrested in North Carolina this July.

The NFL response was to extend a year-long ban on Josh Gordon for this 2014 season. He is now unable to even practice with the Browns.

During the appeals process, according to USA TODAY, Gordon’s legal team argued that the reason for his latest positive test was caused by second hand smoke.

The NFL upheld the suspension. Here was Josh Gordon’s response to the decision.

“I’d like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Cleveland Browns organization and our fans. 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.” also reported that the Browns have been actively involved in providing a support system to Gordon and assisting in making sure he has substance abuse treatments available to him, if he should choose.

What is the NFL’s Policy and Program for Substance Abuse?

To help define which substance and what the policy that Josh Gordon continues to break actually is, here is the first paragraph of the policy.

“The illegal use of drugs and the abuse of prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and alcohol (hereinafter referred to as “substances of abuse”) is prohibited for players in the National Football League (“NFL”). Moreover, the use of alcohol may be prohibited for individual players in certain situations where clinically indicated in accordance with the terms of this Policy.”

Notice about this policy that it prohibits the use of illegal drugs, and this includes marijuana. While many Michigan cities have voted to legalize and decriminalize marijuana and two states have legalized marijuana, under federal and 48 other state laws, marijuana remains illegal.

Take Away

Josh Gordon could become a legend. At a time when marijuana laws are continually changing, it would be a shame if Gordon doesn’t enter back into the NFL next year.

What do you think of the NFL suspending Gordon for an entire season? Should the NFL be more lenient with their policy concerning marijuana? Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.