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NFL May Ban Best Wide Receiver Next Season Over Marijuana

josh gordon marijuana nfl

(via wikipedia)

Remember all those public service ads and D.A.R.E. classes that warned about how smoking pot was going to make you lethargic, apathetic, and unable to achieve your dreams?  Yeah, sure, this artist, that musician, they may have smoked pot, but smoking pot would destroy any hope of a career in the public or private sector.  Well, OK, you have the past few presidents or a handful of tech start-up billionaires, but it’s not like they are openly, actively, currently pulling massive bong rips… (sigh) OK, Michael Phelps, but…

At some point, as two legalized states become four this November and become eight in 2016, society is going to have to accept that people from everyday working class stiffs to multi-millionaire professional athletes can function at a high level even though they occasionally unwind by getting high.  Nowhere is that more clear than the controversy over the National Football League’s top wide receiver, Cleveland Browns Pro-Bowler Josh Gordon, who may be banned from playing next season over a positive drug test for marijuana.

Josh Gordon, playing for a Browns team that had 4 wins against 12 losses, had 1,646 yards receiving, the most ever in team history, which was better than the second-best receiver, Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, by almost 150 yards.  Gordon’s average yards-per-catch was a full yard better than the third-best receiver, Detroit Lions’ superstar Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, whom he topped by over 150 yards, and was the top yards-per-catch among receivers with over 1,000 yards.  Gordon became the first receiver in over eight decades of NFL history with two consecutive 200 yard games.  All that was with Gordon only playing 14 of the 16 games that season because he was sitting out two games for a previous failed drug test he claims was the result of using a cough syrup containing codeine.

But according to ESPN, he failed another drug test, this time for marijuana, so he faces the possibility of a season-long suspension.  Just in time to not be there as a prime target for the Cleveland Browns star quarterback pickup in the NFL Draft, Texas A&M’s Heisman Trophy winner, “Johnny Football” Manziel.  Just in time to learn the other good wide receiver, Nate Burleson, has re-broken the arm he broke last season.  Hey, Cleveland… are you ready for some… football?

Critics will point out that this isn’t Gordon’s first or even second run-in with the piss police.  Gordon was cut at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, after being suspended twice for marijuana use.  Gordon then failed a drug test when he transferred to Utah.  Despite every indication that Gordon was an unrepentant marijuana consumer, the Cleveland Browns signed him the 2012 Supplemental Draft and signed him on to a four-year $5.3 million contract.

While making $1,325,000 a year sounds like riches to most of us, in NFL-leading-wide-receiver-dollars, it’s chump change, a bargain basement price the Browns got for Gordon’s talent because his marijuana use dropped his stock in the draft.  To add insult to injury, the Browns got to keep four of Gordon’s game paychecks for last year’s two-game suspension.  That’s right; he had to play for free for two games and made only 75 percent of that year’s pay, or just shy of a million dollars.  Of course, the Browns won’t have to pay out the full $1.325 million for this year’s games if he’s suspended.  Sure, you don’t get paid if you don’t work, but the problem is Gordon has nowhere else he can work; he’s still under contract.  Sure, he made close to a million bucks last year, but he might make zero bucks this year, and quality weed in Cleveland ain’t cheap.

For comparison’s sake, the same year Gordon signed his contract, Calvin Johnson inked an eight-year $132 million contract extension with the Lions, or $16,500,000 a year.  But Johnson’s been in the league longer and hasn’t been caught with marijuana metabolites in his piss.

Meanwhile, the sports writers are heaping scorn on Gordon.  Gordon made a “boneheaded move” that was “reckless” and “cost his team”, Gordon is a “drug addict” who “threw away his talent” and turned Cleveland’s draft day into “a nightmare”.  A common recurring theme is that “he knew it was banned” and he knew that his status in the NFL’s substance abuse program meant a 12-month suspension for his next drug test failure.

However, in the comments sections there are more and more people pointing out the hypocrisy of an NFL that survives on beer advertising continuing to ban marijuana that’s legal where the last two Super Bowl teams play.  “It’s not a performance enhancer!” exclaims one comment; another points out the hypocrisy of pot suspensions “while the NFL continues to lack a comprehensive HGH [human growth hormone]testing policy”.  Unfortunately, there are still too many replies in the comments toeing the authoritarian “rules are rules” justification.

In the long run, it really doesn’t matter whether Gordon’s use of marijuana is due to addiction, stupidity, willful rebellion, or accident.  What matters is whether it is in the players’, fans’, and league’s best interests to be testing for it in the first place.  Obviously, having a substance abuse program that monitors and punishes professional adult athletes who smoke pot by threatening them with loss of work and pay isn’t stopping even the ones with arguably the most to lose.  But it succeeds in punishing the fans in Cleveland from enjoying the best team they could field, the players on the Browns who might not achieve the success (and extra pay) of the playoffs, and the league that loses a marketable star because he chooses marijuana instead of alcohol to unwind.

Eventually, the NFL will be unable to continue pretending that they test for marijuana use because athletes are some sort of role models for kids as marijuana becomes more legal and expands to more states where its teams reside.  The NFL will be unable to withstand the growing evidence of marijuana’s vital role in protecting and even reversing players’ brain damage from concussion, marijuana as a far safer, far lower dependence painkiller than the pharmaceuticals routinely dispensed to players, and marijuana as a more responsible, sensible choice for relaxation for players than drinking alcohol.  And as the case of Josh Gordon illustrates, the NFL can’t argue marijuana is detrimental to the quality of its product.

Source: National Cannabis Coalitionmake a donation


About Author

Executive Director: Russ Belville has been active in Oregon marijuana reform since 2005, when he was elected second-in-command of the state affiliate, Oregon NORML. After four years with Oregon NORML, Russ was hired by National NORML in 2009, working as Outreach Coordinator and hosting the NORML Daily Audio Stash podcast until 2012. Since then, Russ launched the 420RADIO marijuana legalization network and is the host of The Russ Belville Show, a live daily marijuana news talk radio program. Russ is also a prolific writer, with over 300 articles posted online and in print in HIGH TIMES, Huffington Post, Alternet, The Weed Blog, Marijuana Politics, and more.


  1. Well what do you know, looks like I found a job after all, dont know how hard it is to live in a city like denver with no means of purchasing the nifty green
    i can’t go around toking up everyone else’s, wouldn’t be right, would be just mean
    got to go, tomorrow is going to be a busy day
    then it is off to purchase some nifty greenery, i sure hope everything works out, that is i pray

  2. out of money, and herb
    not sure what to derb lol
    will scrap metal to get by
    but over crowding makes finding an affordable home here seem like a dream
    and the rent they want is ridicules
    i really need to budy up with some gold prospectors and learn the trade
    let them keep their over rental priced unfair market valued section 8
    got to find something to eat, and some bud, my mind tells me i am late

  3. well, it is pretty here with the cannabis flowers
    i though need to find a place to do laundry and take a shower
    with the ban on tents in the city
    i heard that sleeping in the open can leave a person robbed, not pretty
    and a shelter is out of the question cause a rumor i heard is that for some reason, possibly fights, you will end up in jail
    so i ride my bike miles out of the city just to sleep, and not be robbed, and not be put in a jail, can’t wait til section 8 place is found
    all this biking, and just so that my body and mind will feel the enjoyment from God which is all around
    on top of all that, the city streets are in a diagonal
    so it takes getting used to, but with the nifty herb, the city still looks sensational!
    Love out to the good folk

  4. Ted Mishler on

    i no longer feel like i missing out on life
    what with all the different kinds of cannabis with different strengths and aroma’s of much appreciated delight
    glad to be here, where true leaders lead the way
    the states could be, only if they would behave
    much appreciating for the opportunity to enjoy good company, and meet lots of fun people and
    a taking part in history in the making concerning the openness that denver has exhibited
    got to find a place to stay
    better go to seek out some way to make the days last but anyway
    a ma zing!

  5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1JUPjL2lwA
    well, i am out of time, so will finish the wheel after the move
    cant wait to get there, so the healing effect of cannabis can be felt, and i will once again feel in my own world in my own head at least, in the groove
    once i made a three foot diameter subwoofer, and made the frame by making a bender made from particle board cut in a circle and it made the conduit pipe nice and truly round
    so i thought doing the same for my bike wheel would be the thing to do, as it would apply only a small footprint to the road, but a true bend to the conduit could not be found
    it kept kinking up, so i had to give up
    guess i will have to make another conduit bender after the move to denver, yup!

  6. http://www.pilotfriend.com/training/flight_training/tech/images/2.jpg
    i have been apparently successful in my attempt to make a solid tire using valve springs –
    looks kind of sort of like a aircraft rotary engine, the wheel does now, going to the hardware to purchase washers to keep the springs centered on the bolts, then i will mount the tire, i have a better gas tank, one that does not have rust caked inside it, so it looks like i will ride the bike to denver! then i can toke and SING!
    what enthusiastical feelings of love cannabis brings, an under appreciated thing i believe cannabis is, better go, need to get the wheel on, and get rid of a few more pieces of furniture

  7. Ted Mishler on

    you know, of course, shame on me for letting the mean people get to me like that, in fact, in my opinion if any one of us gets angry at them, we all are missing out on why we are here, i heard a minister recently and i dont know how he personally feels on cannabis use as a way of life to eleviate this or that and to gain spiritual state of mind in a way, well if we are looking in that direction, but really, we all can always argue on what was said hundreds, thousands or millions of years ago, but the wisdom seems is something gainfull for all, and that is found in the bible and other books they say
    that which is is what should always be our focus though too, other wise we will take a blind eye to our surroundings and that is no way to be, but the minister said
    something like heaven is where all our dreams and hopes come true, and as my hopes and dreams are simple ones, they have always seemed thank you God wherever you are, i suppose you are everywhere, and i thank you and there you are lol
    and one thing is true, and that is not to hate on one another and say mean discouraging things to one another too, well,
    the world is going to do what it is going to do, what we need to do is take part in it in a positive way, and that is not with insultfull banter as i exibited a while ago, where is the delete lol–
    that kind of thing will take away any credibility we know that we do have
    so that said
    i am happy in my head
    and now the state does not look so bad
    but lets face it, if there were only a dispensary to go too when needed, it sure would be a lot more handy, still no sativa, but a cross
    so today is not a total loss
    love to the good folk
    and apparently there are many
    but good or bad, sometimes in this city, there just is no weed to be had
    so i still am moving
    and i do not feel sad
    i feel glad cause i will once again enjoy
    what some call it when all your hopes and dreams come true, heaven, if they are doable things that are morally sound
    as we would not want God to ever look at us with a frown
    to do so would surly make us all unhappy
    hope my beliefs do not make people think i am being sappy
    anyway sorry for the MOMENT OF UNHAPPINESS
    i do know there is more to life than arguing to folks on whether true happiness exists WITH CANNABIS if one prefers
    they get to always spout of messages of division and hate, what kind of messages is that telling the children? to hate others is some how clean and Godly? i think not, it is the original sin that prevents them from the garden, just as adam and eve perhaps i dont know, need to talk to prophessionals in the clergy, maybe they can sort the world out for me on how i should look at it so that it does not get me down, when i hear other bully us and enjoy prohibityion of the cannbauis community, it is just terrible the thoughts that they have, it is a hate crime that they are really doing, but i am not into this thinking so i am through with this subject, where attention goes, energy flows, and yet to sit back and say nothing seems some how to submit some sort of approval of teaching people to be bullies to others is approved, and i do not think that is proper behavior in any society,

    the prohibitionists should remember that children should also be not taught to hate groups of people of the united states, to do so only breeds distrust and hate

    ok, im over it, now on to something else
    oh but first, wanted to say that i am working on a wheel that will be suspended on valve springs lol
    that way a solid tire would last a while and it should make for a soft ride, should also hopefully have more efficiency cause if there is less road drag, there will be more coastage and less peddelage, i also aquired just today, a pulley for the weed eater motor that intend to mount on the bike, i just might ride the thing out there, might be a lot of fun, until rain comes lol

    if not, i will have scratched that itch of curiosity of the said tire scenario on do ability

    time for some doob ability

  8. well, bogart ruined my experience here
    so i am off to toke, get in the proper frame of mind, so i wont feel blue
    need to also shampoo my rug
    so that i will be prepared to leave thias sorry state of indiana, and seek heaven above,
    in denver

  9. bogart, you sorry sack of life what is wrong with you

    why do you feel that doing without makes you clean, all i see prohibition of the cannabis communty’s constitutional rights as doing is making the national deficit skyrocket, along with all the prisons you piece of crap

  10. Ted Mishler on

    forgot to mention the amps needed off the secondary above would need to be concidered before knowing how thick the secondary wire would need to be, but it would need to be a lot heavier than the primary, the would need to also be electrically sound so no arc would occur, a long rod might work as one side of rod could be used for the well, i dont know, testing would need to be done-

  11. Ted Mishler on

    before i go
    i wanted to tell what i know
    that for a transformer if one coil of the transformer is used as a primary with an input of 120 volts, and one wanted only 12 of those volts to be used for some reason, then 120 turns of wire on the primary would be used and 12 turns on the secondary would be used, now i do not know for sure, but it seems to me that that kind of thinking could be used for the idea i had of a motor behaving like a self generating motor of sorts, and the energy wasted from the tire flexing could power the whole thing, and i imagine that although i doubt it would take off on its own, but it seems it might, but more likely would just make bike riding more easy to peddle due to less road drag from the tire flex as the wasted energy would be transferred to electrically to propel the bike forward reducing or possibly eliminating the road drag? maybe that kind of thought could even be used on cars to make it so that gasoline costs would not be so high to get from here to there i really need to get some job in denver so i can purchase a motorcycle though, cause it takes so long by peddle power, even if a motor could be added to my bike, even a gas –

    i had a thought that the idea of the motor torque would need to be equal to the pounds of pressure a person usually exerts on the peddles in pounds each half revolution
    so why not keep adding in parallel the coils per inch of the rim in this imaginary what if scenarioed thought, each row of coils could have their matching set of magnets until they exert pressure equal to the peddles per pulse of the piezos which could be electrically, in series or parallel
    and like was mentioned before, with the step down transformer built into the motor coil to save on weight, the idea seems worth a try, it may be costly, though, but if one were to purchase the piezos in bulk or on ebay by the lot, it seems it wouldn’t be too costly, even if it would take hundreds of piezos per tire,
    oh i forgot to bring in the error code on my laptop, i have got to get it going
    oh out of rhyme, but after some supper and re-imibation which seems about due
    no, i relly have stuff to do
    love out to the good folk, no joke

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