BEREA — Browns receiver Josh Gordon has a high-profile lawyer and an interesting argument.
He hopes they result in a successful appeal of an indefinite suspension for failing a marijuana test. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be allowed to play in 2014.
Reports Tuesday on ESPN and Profootballtalk.com laid out the argument Gordon’s attorneys will use Friday in an appeal.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported, citing sources, that part of Gordon’s case will be to claim the problematic test result was due to second-hand smoke.
His attorneys will call witnesses who will testify that Gordon’s test scores indicate he was the victim of breathing in second-hand marijuana smoke. The levels of his test results would qualify as negative readings under Olympic, Major League Baseball and federal workplace standards.
According to the ESPN report, the NFL has maintained it doesn’t intend to suspend players for second-hand smoke.
Gordon hired attorney Maurice Suh to represent him in the hearing with the NFL, according to multiple reports. Suh helped Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman win an appeal of a suspension in 2012 for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Another aspect of Suh’s case will be that Gordon has passed at least 70 drug tests. The one in question generated a positive result by a slim margin and included a level of randomness.
According to the reports, urine samples are split into two bottles. If the “A” bottle yields a positive result, the “B” bottle is tested. The “B” bottle doesn’t need to show a violation, just evidence of the substance shown in the “A” bottle.
Gordon’s “A” bottle had 16 nanograms of THC per milliliter. The “B” sample tested at 13.6. The limit under the league’s substance abuse policy is 15 nanograms per milliliter.
The Profootballtalk report says if the bottles had been flipped, a positive test wouldn’t have been recorded and Gordon wouldn’t face a suspension.
Gordon’s side will argue the same specimen should reveal consistent results.
The indefinite suspension would sideline Gordon for the season and he wouldn’t be eligible to apply for reinstatement for a year. Gordon and Browns fans are looking for a reversal or a reduction.
Gordon is participating in training camp until the hearing. He has looked distracted and has given up on a few passes, including one that resulted in an interception Tuesday morning.
Gordon, who failed multiple marijuana tests in college, was suspended for the first two games of last season for failing a drug test — he blamed codeine in a prescribed cough medicine — and put into Stage 3 of the league’s substance abuse program. Players in Stage 3 can be tested up to 10 times per month.
Gordon was arrested earlier this month on a DWI charge in North Carolina. ESPN reported it cannot be factored into any punishment from the drug test.
Gordon could face a separate suspension for the DWI.
Coach Mike Pettine had high praise for defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin.
“He’s as good as I’ve had in this system as far as his technique in defending the run,” Pettine said.
Rubin played end last season in then-coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 scheme, but Pettine plans to play him at nose tackle.
“First and foremost, we’re going to get him down close to the ball, either right over the center or shaded either way and let him do what he does best, which is control blockers and get off blocks and make plays,” he said.
Phil Taylor, who’s yet to practice with an injury, played nose tackle last year. He will likely start alongside Rubin and also spend time at nose.
Rubin appreciated the love from Pettine.
“It definitely means a lot,” he said. “He’s got high expectations for a lot of our guys. I’m going to try to go out there and prove him right.”
Tight end Gary Barnidge was back in action for the first time since failing the conditioning test Friday. With a few sprints remaining, he became disoriented and was helped off the field by trainers.
“It had nothing to do with conditioning-wise, just something to do with heat-wise,” said Barnidge, who thought dehydration contributed. “Something happened and I just couldn’t … they said when they got to me I was out of it.”
He didn’t take long Tuesday to get into the swing of things. He put a huge block on defensive lineman Cam Henderson during a run drill, drawing the praise of teammates.
“First day back I wanted to make sure I was good to go,” Barnidge said. “And there’s no way better to start it than a nine-on-nine drill.”
One of the No. 2 jerseys Johnny Manziel wore during his Heisman Trophy-winning season at Texas A&M will be auctioned off this week, The Associated Press reported.
Manziel wore the jersey, estimated at a value of $100,000, for six games in 2012 as he became the first freshman to win the Heisman.
Not everyone loves Manziel.
Former Bills receiver Andre Reed, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, was asked about Manziel in an interview with New York Magazine.
“Who the (expletive) is Johnny Manziel?” Reed said. “LeBron ain’t your guy! You’re not ‘Johnny Football.’ You’re ‘Johnny Rookie (expletive).’”
Reed said Manziel wouldn’t have been a fit in Buffalo.
“They’d boo that (expletive) outta here,” he said. “The fans would put him in his place.”
- Receiver Marlon Moore, who was signed Monday and practiced Tuesday, reportedly will be suspended for the first game if he makes the team. Howard Balzer of Sports Xchange reported in May that Moore was suspended by the league for a game. Pettine wouldn’t discuss it.
- The players have today off under rules of the collective bargaining agreement. That means no curfew Tuesday night and no meetings today.
- Practice Thursday will include tackling in short-yardage drills.
- Veteran inside linebacker Karlos Dansby rested and was replaced by Zac Diles with the starters.
- Receiver Nate Burleson walked over to shake the hands of a couple of soldiers in the stands during a receiver drill.