New CBA stops NFL suspensions for positive test for marijuana

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Not everyone is happy with a lot of the details in the new CBA. But there is one area I think most players can agree is a very good thing — no more suspensions for pot.

The country is changing. States across the nation are legalizing marijuana as the stigma attached to it is being lifted. The league needed to follow suit and it appears they have.

Where popping positive for marijuana was once an offense punishable by suspension, it is no longer according to multiple reports on the details of the new CBA. As with any offense for which a player could be suspended, multiple offenses led to greater and greater suspensions.

The first player who comes to mind — for me anyway — is former Raiders and Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant.

Jon Gruden and the Raiders acquired the talented receiver from Pittsburgh in a 2018 draft-day trade, sending a third-round pick to Pittsburgh.

Bryant was on the upswing in terms of his NFL talent and performance and received raves for his work ethic. The issue for Bryant was that he suffered from migraines that would frequently sideline him for practices and games. Gruden joked about Bryant as the “white tiger” in training camp that year.

“I call Martavis the White Tiger,” Gruden said at the time. “I used to go to Busch Gardens in Tampa, we called [Joey] Galloway the White Tiger in Tampa. You know you got to Busch Gardens in Tampa and they got a white tiger? You go 12 times, 13 times I went to Busch Gardens and the white tiger was always in his cage. Well, the white tiger came out today. Bryant came out. I don’t know if you get that analogy, but…sometimes he comes out to play, sometimes he doesn’t. It’s good to see him because he’s really special, like the white tiger.”

A common way for people to deal with migraines is marijuana. But the NFL had zero tolerance for Bryant’s necessary medication. Leading to multiple suspensions for positive tests and ultimately his indefinite suspension. Bryant was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t.

The 28-year-old receiver applied for NFL reinstatement last July, but there was no word at the time if that reinstatement was granted. And if it was not, could this new CBA open the door for that and his potential return to the NFL?

According to Pro Football Talk, the old rules for reinstatement still apply even in light of the new CBA. That means players like Josh Gordon — who just last December was suspended indefinitely — will still have to wait the same amount of time to get back in the league.

Gordon got his reinstatement from a previous suspension last year and played most of last season. Bryant, on the other hand, has waited far longer to get back in, so you’d have to figure he has served his time.

The main sticking point for Bryant may have simply been teams’ reluctancy to sign him knowing his issues with migraines and by extension the likelihood he would pop positive for marijuana and be suspended again. With no more suspensions, it’s possible a team would be willing to sign him.

Gruden loved Bryant before, spent a third-round pick to acquire him, and the Raiders are now more desperate for help at receiver than were when he was originally acquired.

The final question from there is if Bryant is still looking to return to the league or if he has given up on his migraines ever allowing him to continue playing. If he feels CBD could allow for a return, his talent would be welcome in the league. That may ultimately be the biggest if in this scenario.



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