Browns WR Gordon meets with NFL to appeal drug suspension
Josh Gordon's fight to stay on the field isn't over.
Gordon spent 10 hours in the NFL's offices in New York on Friday for his appeal hearing before the sides decided to stop and will resume on Monday, a person familiar with the meeting told The Associated Press.
Gordon, who is contesting a possible one-year suspension for failing another drug test, and his legal team met with an arbitrator from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because neither party is commenting publicly.
It's not known if Gordon will return to training camp with the Browns over the weekend. The team has a scrimmage at the University of Akron on Saturday.
Gordon's lawyer, Maurice Suh, contends his client tested positive because of secondhand smoke.
While Gordon was in Manhattan, Commissioner Roger Goodell was at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, where he defended the league's recent two-game suspension of Baltimore running back Ray Rice for domestic violence and commented briefly on Gordon's situation.
"Josh is going through the process right now," Goodell said. "I am not a part of that process. They'll make a decision based on the information that is exchanged today. At some point in time, I may have an opportunity to be involved. When I am, I look forward to meeting with him."
Goodell said the information shared in the hearing will decide Gordon's fate.
As they await a decision on their teammate, who also is Cleveland's best player, the Browns are keeping their fingers crossed the outcome will be favorable.
"I'm an optimistic guy," wide receiver Nate Burleson said. "I'm a glass half-full guy, so I'm always hoping and expecting the best-case scenario."
Until they hear from the league, the Browns are going about the business of getting ready for the upcoming season. They'd love to have Gordon for as many games as possible. After all, he's one of the league's elite receivers and an offensive threat who keeps defensive coordinators awake at night. To be without him for any time will drastically change Cleveland's offense.
Goodell, who was widely criticized for not penalizing Rice more for domestic violence, said each case must be judged on its own merits.
"You have to deal with the facts," he said. "We have a drug program that is collectively bargained and it has a step process. It takes four incidents before you actually reach a suspension in a drug-related case. You have to respond to facts here. You have a lot of people voicing their opinions, but what you have to understand is that this is a young man (Rice) who made a terrible mistake -- it's inconsistent with what we're all about.
"We have dealt with it in a serious manner, and we're very confident that this young man understands where he is and what he needs to do going forward."
Gordon's list of off-the-field issues is lengthy, which may hinder his argument. He failed at least three known drug tests in college and he was suspended two games last season for a drug violation.
Separate from his appeal, Gordon, who led the league in yards receiving despite being suspended two games last season, could still face league discipline under the league's personal-conduct policy for his arrest last month on a DUI charge in Raleigh, North Carolina. Gordon reportedly checked himself into a rehab clinic in California following the arrest.
Pettine has said the Browns will have to go with a receiver-by-committee approach if Gordon can't play.
Slot receiver Andrew Hawkins is confident he and his teammates can pick up the slack.
"We have a bunch of hard-working guys with chips on their shoulders who are going to come out here and bust their butts every day," he said. "And I'll take that 10 times out of 10."
NOTES: Starting free safety Tashaun Gipson walked off the practice field with an apparent left knee injury. Pettine said Gipson, who started 15 games last season, was being evaluated. ... Pettine ended practice by having members of his staff catch punts. Pitting the offensive assistants against the defensive assistants, the competition energized the players, who engaged in some spirited trash talk and finger pointing before offensive intern Mike LaFleur caught the final punt, meaning the offense will wear orange jerseys Monday. "I would of lost a lot of money if you would have said we'd put eight coaches out there catching knuckle-ball punts and seven of them would catch it," Pettine said. "Those guys stepped up. It was impressive." ... Several offensive players celebrated touchdowns, none more demonstratively that Anthony Armstrong, who threw the ball into the second level of the VIP hospitality tent. "It was strictly spur of the moment," he said. "Your emotions take over."