Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon tested positive for marijuana, which violated the NFL’s drug policy. The positive test resulted in an overly-harsh one year suspension. Josh Gordon wasn’t caught harming someone in conjunction with consuming marijuana, nor was he even caught consuming or possessing marijuana. He had marijuana in his system, which means that within the 30 days leading up to the test, Josh Gordon had consumed marijuana. It wasn’t even during the season; it was during the off season.
Compare that to the suspension handed down to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. Ray Rice beat up his fiancee in a casino elevator to the point that she was knocked out. Ray Rice is going to be suspended two games. If you have any marijuana in your system at all, and have harmed no one, you get suspended for an entire NFL season. But if you beat up a woman to the point she is unconscious you get suspended two games. How is that fair? Why does the NFL hate marijuana so much?
There are two NFL teams that are from states where marijuana is completely legal – the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. There are many more teams that are from states where marijuana is legal for medical purposes. Yet, despite some form of marijuana being legal in those states, the NFL will still suspend players if legal marijuana is found in those player’s systems. These players can drink as much as they want, and take as many prescription drugs as they want, and that’s fine. But the second it’s determined that they have taken even one hit of marijuana or taken one bite of a marijuana edible, the hammer is dropped.
What is the goal of the NFL’s policies? Is it to keep it’s players from harming themselves? Because if so, it’s worth pointing out that pharmaceuticals damage your organs, while marijuana does not. Is it to keep players from harming others? Because if so, it’s worth pointing out that Josh Gordon didn’t harm anyone by testing positive for marijuana, yet Ray Rice knocked out a defenseless woman. Ray Rice would have to knock out seven more women to get a comparable suspension to Josh Gordon’s suspension. To say that NFL’s policies are inconsistent is an understatement.
Josh Gordon is going to appeal his suspension August 1st. How the NFL will react to the appeal is tough to say. Considering Josh Gordon is the only NFL player ever to achieve 200 yards receiving in back to back games, the NFL may lower his suspension to get him back on the field to help sell tickets and NFL merchandise. But if so, the NFL’s motive will be to make money, not to do what’s right. If the NFL truly wanted to do what’s right, Josh Gordon wouldn’t be suspended at all for marijuana.