Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Mar 2016

Martavis Bryant Suspended For 2016

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant has been suspended without pay for a minimum of one year for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

Brian Fettner, one of Bryant's agents, told USA Today that Bryant had missed multiple drug tests after serving a four-game suspension at the start of last year.

“We’re all stunned, me included,” Fettner said. "We clearly miscalculated the issue. His isn’t a party issue. It’s a coping issue and a depression issue, and he’s got to take care of it.”

Bryant was 55th in DYAR and 54th in DVOA last season. His numbers were better as a rookie in 2014 (137 DYAR, 22.9% DVOA), but with 49 targets he finished one short of qualifying for our tables.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 14 Mar 2016

33 comments, Last at 26 Mar 2016, 3:48pm by peepshowmopguy


by theslothook :: Mon, 03/14/2016 - 2:20pm

He's a terrific receiver but still needed to develop the finer points of route running. This slip up could impact his career development. Still, was a fan the moment I saw him against the colts. Still a fan of his.

by jtr :: Mon, 03/14/2016 - 2:58pm

This is usually weed, right? I'm confused as to why the NFL continues to throw down these draconian suspensions for a substance that doesn't improve on field performance. Several players have hinted that weed is more effective and less dangerous than opiates for relieving the numerous aches and pains a player accumulates through an NFL season. I'm kind of surprised the owners don't tell Goodell to knock it off with this kind of thing; it's obviously not good business to keep stars like Bryant and Gordon off the field for such minor stuff.

by Joshua Northey :: Mon, 03/14/2016 - 4:39pm

Well I suspect the "draconian" punishment is because it is the 5th (and further) failures to follow an important (to the NFL) work rule.

Now you and I might agree that the rule is stupid, but serious penalties for someone breaking an important (but stupid) rule are totally in order.

This isn't "one and done", or even "three strikes and you are out", this is MANY strikes and you are out, particularly considering appeals and considering that some positive tests get swept away if there is a good excuse or the slightest problem with the process.

As part of my work I need to certify that I work in a drug free workplace and I will literally be fired for any positive drug tests...and I literally just give people advice, diddle databases, and do financial reconciliations.

He has a serious professional job and serious professional jobs often come with stupid rules. Learn to live with them or face consequences.

by duh :: Mon, 03/14/2016 - 6:11pm

No, he doesn't have 'a serious professional job' he's an entertainer.

He just happens to work for a bunch of uptight, old, rich guys who have bargained with his union for draconian rules regarding this particular issue.

The real question to me is why his union continues to agree to such rules and what they are extracting from said old guys in return.

by dryheat :: Mon, 03/14/2016 - 7:09pm

No, the real question is why a supposed adult, who is well aware of the penalties to him and his team, chooses to repeatedly violate the prohibition.

It's not a fairness issue any more, it's a brains/commitment issue. Either he's extremely selfish, or he has a problem. Either way, a year off to re-assess your life isn't a bad thing.

by Joshua Northey :: Mon, 03/14/2016 - 8:17pm

If you don't think being a *professional* athlete is a "serious professional job" you are an idiot who is barely worth responding to.

That said.

"The real question to me is why his union continues to agree to such rules and what they are extracting from said old guys in return."

The answer to this question is MONEY. You cannot possibly be this stupid can you? The players could easily get weed taken out of the drug policy for say a what 2% pay cut. They would rather have the money as a collective, which is you know, part of the deal with being in a union, your individual desires get subsumed by the aggregate.

by TXinsider :: Mon, 03/14/2016 - 11:13pm

It's a fuggin game, and no one gives a rat's ass what a player is smoking except the old fools running it.

Was Bryant a dumbass for ignoring said draconian rules? yes
Were 'mental issues' the cause? lol, millennials - NO!
Should it cost him millions of dollars, better spent on his well-being? Absolutely not.

How Goodell's NFL rationalizes disallowing legal marijuana in states that allow it is beyond me. I mean, isn't there a labor law that addresses this? Is a football player at all placed in a situation where his being stoned could bring harm to others?

by jtr :: Tue, 03/15/2016 - 8:11am

The hypocrisy that really gets me is that the NFL is so severe against weed, but is totally fine with the team doctors giving a player a bottle of vicodin and a beer on the team plane after a game.

by Joshua Northey :: Tue, 03/15/2016 - 12:00pm

Well the old fools running it are the ones who run it and who control all the MONEY. Are you 15 years old, do I need to explain to you how the world works? The people with the money general have more power than the people who do not. Their opinions matter more.

It absolutely is a mental issue to be so stuck on pot use as a recreational activity that you get suspended from your highly lucrative but short term job for a year over it.

What it *should* be is pretty compelling. There are thousands or tens of thousands of greater injustices that just involve consequences for pot use in the US each year.

Employer's don't generally need to rationalize their drug testing policies. Pot is still federally prohibited and so still part of the "drug-free workplace" laws that impact several industries.

by peepshowmopguy :: Sat, 03/26/2016 - 3:48pm

So far you've managed to write two posts in this thread needlessly insulting the person you are responding to.Take that garbage over to ESPN or Fox Sports where it belongs, or act like an adult and present your arguments based on their merits and not on your ability to disparage the intelligence of someone you don't know.

by Theo :: Mon, 03/14/2016 - 3:37pm

"...and he’s got to take care of it.”
because, what was the problem with smoking some weed again?

by Joshua Northey :: Mon, 03/14/2016 - 4:40pm

In this case the problem is your employer asked you not to do it and you signed a contract saying you would not do it. Is that clear enough for you?

by Theo :: Mon, 03/14/2016 - 4:42pm

I don't question the suspension, but I question the rule itself.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 03/14/2016 - 10:47pm

1) The rule is part of the CBA. The players voted to uphold it.

2) The law is very plain that just because marijuana is legal in some states, employers are permitted to impose stricter rules. You don't have to like it, but you are free to lump it.

What puzzles me is why the whiners fail to understand all this.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 03/14/2016 - 11:32pm

I guess what a lot of folks don't understand is what the NFL gets out of it. Is it an image thing? I don't think so because all they'd have to do is stop testing and no one would be the wiser. It's not like players are smoking on the streets.

As to why some athletes don't stop smoking, it's perfectly simple. They need it. Call it an addiction, call it whatever. Some people can't get by without their drink, some can't get by without other things. Exercise, sex, TV, money, whatever it is, some people need their little escapes to be able to feel their life is worth living.

And I think they should let them have their weed. And then they should quit it, but only because they choose to, not because somebody is forcing them to for no good reason at all.

by TXinsider :: Mon, 03/14/2016 - 11:32pm

This guy

What is 'plain' is that Goodell's NFL has no right to dictate how a player relieves pain, as long as it's legal, which marijuana is.

If Goodell was at all consistent with these rulings, Irsay would still be suspended. But he's not, and Goodell is clear: "I don't really care about it all, I just like this rulership thingy". "Knight me, dammit"!

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/14/2016 - 11:50pm

Actually, your employer can lawfully prohibit you from any number of lawful activities, depending on the state, and especially by specific contractual provision. The fact that your employer is a moron doesn't mean he can't enforce a contract that you are party to.

(Edit) Also, because of the Federal laws regarding marajuana use, employers can discipline employees for off the job weed use, even in states which prohibit employers from taking action against employees who engage in activities which are lawful in that state.

Nobody ever guaranteed that democracy would lead to intelligent government.

by TXinsider :: Tue, 03/15/2016 - 10:58am

Are you saying that in a state which allows the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, an employee can be fired for doing just that? I'm not talking about a job, like bus driver for example, where lives are in your hands, but, say, a 7-11 clerk. That's surprising to me. What's the point of a law which mandates you become a hobo to appreciate it?

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/15/2016 - 11:11am

Yep, because Federal law still prohibits marajuana use, employers can still require employees to avoid marajuana completely, even in states where it is allowed, and fire employees who do not do so. Call your Congressman.

by TXinsider :: Tue, 03/15/2016 - 11:15am

Eh, I haven't smoked dope in 30 years so if I'm going to call my congressman, it won't be about that.

by meblackstone :: Tue, 03/15/2016 - 11:21am

The most recent case I am aware of, one of the satellite companies (Direct TV or Dish), fired a disabled customer service rep with impeccable performance reviews and metrics, with a prescription for medical marijuana, in Colorado, for testing positive, and one of the courts of appeals held that they could because of Federal law making it illegal.

I hope for his and his family's sake he gets it together. He's always seemed less than responsible, but not a jerk. He's his own enemy, not anyone else's.

There was more risk at the restaurants I worked at where half the staff was high and 2/3s was drunk.

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 03/16/2016 - 9:31am

There are medical establishments (hospitals, etc) that prohibit their employees from smoking tobacco. It's not just marijuana.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 03/16/2016 - 11:46am

There are states, however, where it is illegal for employers to take action against employees who use tobacco off the job. That is not the case with marajuana.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 03/15/2016 - 7:09am

Marijuana's legal????

Not where I liev. If it was.Would buy bong immediately but it is not,so I do not partake. Not going to jail or gettign fired for doing marijuana

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 03/15/2016 - 7:12am

Repsonse was to TXisnider

by dryheat :: Tue, 03/15/2016 - 7:32am

Of course the NFL has that right, or at least the individual teams. Me, and millions of other non-professional athletes get drug tested as part of our job. If I test positive, or refuse to test, I go to involuntary rehab the first time, look for a new job the second time. And my excuse that I live in a state where it is legalized isn't worth a piss-hole in the snow. It's nice that I won't be arrested. It doesn't mean I get to keep my job.

by TXinsider :: Tue, 03/15/2016 - 11:05am

I thought most jobs in which the employee isn't responsible for other lives didn't even test for marijuana anymore. I know the last one I took, which was a decade ago, and in PA, didn't.

by dryheat :: Tue, 03/15/2016 - 1:57pm

the "responsible for other people's lives" criterion is a strange one you've come up with. As far as the employer is concerned, it's about on-the-job performance and/or public optics.

It's really not unlike a dress code. The prospective employee should know about any dress code or drug testing policies at the time of hiring. If he/she has an objection to either, he/she has the option of refusing the job offer.

I've made the case that I can do my job just as effectively in a t-shirt and shorts as I can in a suit. My boss says that such attire is unacceptable. I can agree with the dress code, or pursue a job that allows me to dress the way I choose.

by Theo :: Tue, 03/15/2016 - 2:20pm

I don't fail to understand it, I fail to agree with the idea that football players can't smoke weed and get punished harder for it than some criminal offenses. While on the other hand the doctors hand out synthetic painkillers to get players through the season.

by theslothook :: Wed, 03/16/2016 - 3:43pm

The nfl is marketed to a wide audience. I think advertisers put pressure for the nfl brand to remain as "Pure and righteous" as possible. That is why you see these punishments dolled out. Whether its fair unfair is totally a different matter.

by LionInAZ :: Thu, 03/17/2016 - 7:22pm

Try this: the NFL is dependent on Congress for approval of it's anti-trust status. The Congress at present is controlled by tight-assed 'values' politicians who disapprove of legal marijuana. Therefore, it's in the NFL's interest to keep banning it, at least until the end of the current CBA. Plus, as pointed out by another responder, the football establishment has fostered a close connection with the 'moral values' of particular religious strains that oppose drug use but don't have a problem with young men beating the crap out of each other.

by amin purshottam :: Tue, 03/15/2016 - 12:25am

Didn't I read somewhere that he has some serious depression issues and that these are related to his issues. As someone who has family battling mental health issues, I hope he can get his life back together. I am not sure how much support there is in the system but hope it works out for him. There are I am sure many players who go through this and given the stigma associated with this, many probably hide the issues. I know TO had/has issues also. Many people thought he was a real jerk, which he was, but I think a lot of his issues caused him to act the way he did. Just my 2 cents.

by Scott de B. :: Tue, 03/15/2016 - 9:01am

Marijuana is still prohibited by federal law in all 50 states.