Browns' Gordon has suspension reduced to 10 games
BY TOM WITHERS
AP SPORTS WRITER
BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- Josh Gordon has been cleared to run a route back to the Browns this season.
Cleveland's star wide receiver was reinstated into the NFL and had his one-year suspension reduced to 10 games after the league announced changes to its drug policy on Friday.
The league and Players' Association reached agreement on revisions to the substance-abuse program two days after announcing changes on performance-enhancing drugs.
Gordon, who has at least four known drug violations, has already served two games of the suspension. He will be eligible to play Nov. 23 when the Browns visit Atlanta and could be back for Cleveland's final six games.
Gordon's 10-game suspension will cost him more than $800,000. He'll be paid over $300,000 if he plays in those last six games.
Gordon's complicated saga has hung over the Browns for months, and there finally seems to be some closure.
Gordon had the appeal of a season-long ban for a failed marijuana test upheld on Aug. 22 by an arbitrator and it appeared he would not be able to play until 2015, and even that wasn't for certain.
The league had said his eligibility for reinstatement would be determined after the season.
But now Gordon is coming back, assuming of course he's able to stay clean during the suspension.
Under the new provisions, Gordon is expected to be allowed to work out and attend team meetings at the Browns' facility. Before the changes, Gordon was only permitted to meet with his clinician at the team's headquarters.
On Tuesday, Gordon pleaded guilty to a DWI charge in Raleigh, North Carolina, allowing him to avoid an additional two-game suspension under the new policies. He was scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 18, but his attorneys wanted the case resolved to get him back on the field more quickly.
The NFL's new policy on substance-abuse includes two additional disciplinary stages for marijuana positives. A first violation will result in referral to the substance abuse program, which has always been the case.
Subsequent violations will result in a two-game fine, a four-game fine, a four-game suspension, a 10-game suspension, and one-year banishment.
In addition, the threshold for a positive marijuana test will be raised from 15 nanograms to 35 nanograms, reflecting recent actions taken by other testing organizations.
During his suspension, Gordon has been working for a local car dealership.
Once Gordon returns, Browns coach Mike Pettine said he and general manager Ray Farmer plan to meet with the talented 23-year-old.
"I've already had some good sit-downs with Josh," Pettine said. "Ray and I both. When that occurs, we'll sit down with him and just kind of lay the plan out for him. We'd like to think that all of our players, we're on the same page with all of them as far as, `Here's what your role is. Here's what our expectations are.' I don't care if it's the 10th guy on the practice squad or if it's one of your better players, I just think that communication is important. Too many times you get caught making assumptions. It's just better to be out in the open."
Despite being suspended for two games - he blamed a prescription codeine cough syrup - last season , Gordon led the league with 1,646 yards receiving. He became the first player in league history to record consecutive 200-yard games.
While the Browns could have him back for the home stretch of the season, his teammates are more excited about having Gordon, the person, around.
"That's great for him," safety Donte Whitner said. "That's great for anybody that's suspended and can't be around their second family, and you can't go to your second home. Now, he'll be able to come here, be able to condition here. He'll be able to lift here. He'll be able to eat here.
"He'll be able to watch film, so that when he's ready to step back on the field, he doesn't miss a step."
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org andhttp://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL