Multiple sources are reporting that Josh Gordon and his star studded legal team are considering legal action to fight his one year suspension from the NFL. Gordon followed league protocol and appealed his suspension. He unfortunately did not find a sympathetic ear in arbitrator Harold Henderson. That comes as no surprise as Mr. Henderson was instrumental in negotiating the league’s drug policy on behalf of the NFL. There was nothing “neutral” about the arbitration. A league hearing officer made the decision to uphold a league issued suspension.
Fox News reports that Gordon’s possible legal redress would be an immediate injunction to put the suspension on hold, and allow him to play, while the case winds its way through the legal system. This would be a copycat of the tactic used by multiple players suspended for the use of the diuretic StarCaps. Those players were able to delay the imposition of their suspensions for three years.
Gordon initially considered playing the 2014 season with the Canadian football league. It was reported that the Calgary Stampede acquired his rights and that a deal may be in the works. However, the CFL put the “Ricky Williams Rule” in place in 2006 wherein the Canadian league gives full faith and credit to NFL suspensions. Williams played for one year with the Toronto Argonauts while under a yearlong substance abuse ban from the NFL.
The agreement between the NFL and the CFL, whether official or unofficial, brings the possibility of collusion and antitrust violations into play. Theoretically, Gordon could file an action in the U.S. asking for a stay while he pursues the antitrust claim, but that would only open the possibility of playing north of the border. His NFL ban would more than likely stay in place.
Any legal action by Gordon could backfire. The NFL has implemented its own not so hidden message in the decision. According to the terms of Gordon’s suspension he may be reinstated after the yearlong ban, but it is not guaranteed. Even more important, the league may reinstate him after the conclusion of the 2014 season, meaning he would not miss the 2015 training camp. The entire decision rests with Commissioner Roger Goodell, who does not have a history of being tolerant of those who question league decisions.