A few years ago, the long standing labor contract between the NFL players and owners was going to expire at the end of the season. To make a statement to the owners that the players were united, both of the team's captains involved in the Thursday Night opening game of the season ran out to midfield for the opening coin toss with their hands clasped together. It was a powerful and effective message that the players were not to be take lightly by the owners at the end of the season, and one that has stuck with me for several years after it happened. Just this past week, 5 players of the St. Louis Rams, the team most directly affected by the chaos of Ferguson, came out and made a strong statement on the issue. To begin the game, they came out with their hands up, showing support for the community and the protests occurring all throughout the country. This was a bold move by these players, as it was inevitably going to be met with controversy. The St. Louis Police Department has since come out and criticized the Rams organization for allowing this to happen, and has honestly handled the response to this statement very poorly. Very quickly after the incident they tweeted at the Rams saying Police have 1st Amendment Rights too. They proceeded to call for discipline to come down on these 5 players. To me, this sounds like something an angry child would say to their friends after they lost in a video game. To say those things in that order seems very unprofessional to me, and the fact that the Rams came out afterwards and apologized on behalf of the organization does not help the situation. The situation has continued to develop, with several racist bars saying they will not show any more Rams games from here on out because of the incident. While this situation is still in its infancy, if the NFL came out and suspended these players, even for just a game, the response from the players would be tremendous and deafening. After all, if the police has 1st Amendment rights then don't the players have them too? To suspend these players would be to deny them these 1st Amendment privileges. I can only hope that the NFL continues on the path that it is currently on and doesn't say anything. The protests occurring in Ferguson and around the country are big enough as is, and suspending these players would only add fuel to the fire. That said, I commend these five players for having the courage to come out against the St. Louis Police Department and for the protestors. I hope the situation dies down, and hopefully the racist bars that are banning all future Rams games will soon change their policy as they begin to lose money. Only time will tell.
Josh Gordon has always been something of a reckless player in the NFL. This recklessness reared its ugly head over the summer when Gordon violated the NFL's drug abuse policy. Only here's the thing: he didn't. Recently, the NFL Player's Association and National Football League agreed on a new drug policy raising the threshold for testing positive for marijuana in your system from 15 ng/ml to 35 ng/ml. Under this new policy, Josh Gordon would have passed this test and would not have tested positive for marijuana use as his number, though not officially reported, was somewhere between 15 ng/ml and 35 ng/ml. So why is Gordon still suspended? Well, under the old number which Gordon tested positive for, this would have been Gordon's second offense. Under the old policy, this second offense resulted in a season-long suspension. According to the new policy, all second-time offenders receive a suspension of 10 games. This is the length of Gordon's current suspension. Why? Why were first-time offenders under the old policy allowed to abolish these offences but not second-time offenders? This logic makes no sense to me. Either all NFL players should have had their offences abolished or no one should have. Well, in my opinion everyone who would have passed the test under the new policy should have had their offences abolished. I'm honestly quite ashamed that there wasn't a larger outcry over this injustice outside of Cleveland than there was. Even though this story came out at the height of the Ray Rice/Adrian Peterson controversies, Josh Gordon's suspension to me is a blatant abuse of power from the NFL as clearly the only reason he's still suspended is because 29 of the 30 owners did not want Josh Gordon to play against them for as long as possible. Things like this are honestly why I feel like the National Football League is an awful organization. And yet.....I can't stop watching football. The blatant abuse of power seen here will eventually be lost to the veils of time, because if the criminal mishandling of the Ray Rice case isn't enough to cause policy shifts within the NFL, Josh Gordon sure isn't going to do it. One of these days....