NFL Punishments: Fair Or Not?

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Dec 29, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Colts line backer Robert Mathis (98) signs autographs after the Colts defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars, 30-10 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The Problem

There have been many players given what appears to be a, now standard four game, ban for failing the NFL drug policy. In our division, the St. Louis Rams wide receiver, Stedman Bailey, and our own John Abraham could be facing a ban. Due to the fact that the NFL takes a fair amount of time to rule, the suspension won’t be enforced until next season. Some other current cases of NFL player failing drug tests are, Miami’s second year player Dion Jordan, Colts veteran Robert Mathis and Denver’s Wes Welker.

Here is a larger part of the problem, Jordan it seems has used what most sports would consider a “performance enhancer.” Mathis was taking something that would help him and his wife to start a family. Welker, denies any knowledge of taking something with a banned substance (a bit like the Ray Lewis Deer Antler Spray issue 2 years ago).  Now all of these athletes have taken something they shouldn’t (including Gordon here as well) should they be punished? They broke the rules so yes, but should all of these be  punished equally? I say no, not if Mathis can be medically cleared for the reason that the fertility drug  was for the stated purpose. His wife appears to be pregnant so his use of the drug seems to be justified. If Mathis were to continue to take the drug, he would then run into some other issues and that could warrant a different suspension.

In handing out the ramped up punishments there needs to be some consideration to what is best for the player. By telling a young man that they are not allowed to be around their team, you can put them in a difficult situation. What does the NFL expect him to do? This is the dilemma for Josh Gordon now faces. The league is concerned that he is not representing the NFL properly that they have banned him for the season. Without the support of teammates and the Browns providing him with the counseling he needs it almost as if Josh Gordon is going through this battle alone. Is that fair to put on the shoulders of a young 23-year-old, whose actions show he needs help?