BEREA, Ohio -- Josh Gordon will be on the field for the Cleveland Browns for the stretch run -- that as a result of the new drug testing and punishment policy agreed to and announced Friday by the NFL and NFL Players Association.
Now it’s up to the Browns to make sure the final six games of the season mean something.
Gordon's suspension for marijuana use officially was reduced from the entire 2014 season to 10 games, the NFL and NFLPA announced.
Gordon’s penalty is the new penalty for a fifth positive test. Because one new stage has been added to the league’s policy, Gordon evidently has four failed tests since he joined the NFL.
His next failed test for marijuana would result in a one-year ban.
The level for a positive test, though, has been raised from 15 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter) to 35.
Penalties for a positive marijuana test will have five steps leading to the ban: entrance into the program, a two-game fine, a four-game fine, a four-game suspension, a 10-game suspension and then a one-year ban.
Gordon’s situation is complicated slightly by his guilty plea this week in his DWI case Tuesday in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The new penalty for a first DWI conviction is a two-game suspension. But Gordon’s arrest came under the previous policy. Gordon pled guilty before the agreement in order to avoid the two-game suspension, sources told ESPN the day he pled guilty.
The 10-game suspension means Gordon will miss both games against Pittsburgh.
He’ll miss opportunities against Jacksonville, Oakland, Tampa Bay and Houston.
His first game would be Nov. 23 in Atlanta. He would then face Buffalo, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Carolina and Baltimore.
Whether it matters obviously depends on the way the Browns play leading up to those games. But the latter part of the schedule is very tough, with games against three playoff teams from a year ago and two other very, very good teams in the Falcons and Ravens.
Of course, none of this is fair to Browns fans.
Gordon was disciplined under a policy that was being changed. He took a chance after three previous positive tests (not all of which have been made public) and was penalized for testing positive for a drug that is legal in some states. Gordon said in a video interview on the website ondecker.com that he does not believe he has a substance abuse problem, and he said in his appeal that the 16 nanogram test result was caused by secondhand smoke.
But the test registered positive, and the rules were the rules and were agreed to by the players and the league. They have been updated, but Gordon somehow put himself in a position to test positive -- and did.
Gordon said in the videos that he more or less felt he was a carrot being used to bring the two sides together to agree on HGH testing. But part of the delay in Gordon's hearing and then in the final ruling was the effort by arbitrator Harold Henderson to get the sides to work out a compromise.
That didn’t happen, and the league went to the letter of the law, which had been negotiated and agreed to with the union.
Ten games are fewer than 16, and if the Browns are even close to .500 at that time, his return for the final six could be a boost.
In the first two games, the Browns have shown the offense can be productive without him. With him, it should -- in theory, at least -- be better.