Suspended Browns WR Josh Gordon eyes CFL

Wide receiver Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the...

Wide receiver Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on October 27, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri. (David Welker/Getty Images/AFP)

THE SPORTS XCHANGE

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

Suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon wants to play football, even if that means prying his way into the Canadian Football League.

However, the NFL's leading receiver in 2013 needs permission from the Cleveland Browns and clearance from the CFL, which does not test for recreational drugs. Gordon's year-long suspension for a third substance-abuse violation was upheld following appeal and announced Wednesday.

In 2007, suspended Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams was denied entry into the CFL when the league's commissioner said he would honor NFL rules and uphold the season-long ban.

Gordon is not allowed to practice with the Browns, attend team meetings or other club functions for an entire year. He will have to apply for reinstatement following the season.

Gordon, 23, acknowledged that the league upheld his suspension in a statement released by the NFL Players Association.

"I'd like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Cleveland Browns organization and our fans," Gordon said in the statement. "I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn't exercise better discretion and judgment in my case. I would like to sincerely thank the people who have been incredibly supportive of me during this challenging time, including my family, my agent, my union, my legal team, and the Cleveland Browns staff."

Gordon met with league arbitrator Harold Henderson in New York to appeal the suspension on Aug. 4.

The league confirmed the suspension with a statement: "Appeals officer Harold Henderson has upheld the suspension for the 2014 NFL season of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. The suspension is effective immediately."

Gordon tested positive for marijuana during the offseason, a violation of conditions required as a repeat offender. News of the looming ban was first leaked during the NFL Draft in May.

Gordon hired lawyer Maurice Suh to represent him at his appeal hearing. Suh argued the positive test was the result of secondhand smoke. Gordon has been tested nearly 70 times and passed every test but this particular one, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

The Browns were frustrated that the league took so long to rule on the appeal.

"While we may have strong feelings on the timing and the process of this decision, we have also consistently communicated that we will focus on what we can control in our day to day approach," general manager Ray Farmer said in a statement. "Right now that is preparing our team for the 2014 season and at the same time, supporting Josh however we are able under NFL guidelines during his suspension."

Gordon led the league in receiving yards last season with 1,646 yards despite missing two games for violating the substance-abuse program. Gordon was selected by the Browns in the second round of the 2012 supplemental draft.

"We will continue to support Josh and we understand that there is accountability for one's actions," coach Mike Pettine said in a statement. "Our job and that of the team is to focus on what we can control. Our philosophy in building this team and the mentality we're establishing is that we're going to have to overcome challenges and situations throughout the course of a season. We'll continue to be relentless in our approach, in how we work and focus on our goal of returning winning football to Cleveland."

 


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