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As Browns offseason program begins, no word on Josh Gordon

Cleveland Browns v St. Louis Rams 8-8-2013

CLEVELAND, OHIO - AUGUST 8, 2013: Receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns gets lined up during a game against the St. Louis Rams at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns won 27-19. (Photo by David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

Diamond Images/Getty Images

The NFL’s substance-abuse policy eventually imposes a one-year suspension on a player who violates the provisions enough times. Technically, however, it’s a permanent banishment with the ability to apply for reinstatement after a year. And there’s no apparent requirement that the NFL must move swiftly to process the request.

On Monday, the Browns open their 2016 offseason program. But there’s still no word as to whether the NFL will allow Gordon to rejoin the Browns.

At the league meetings in March, Commissioner Roger Goodell painted a picture that suggests a more deliberate process, with Goodell saying he’s waiting to “get a report” and that he possibly will meet with Gordon.

“When I get more information we can decide what the next appropriate step is, whether it’s me meeting with him or whether they’ve already met with him individually or whether others have met with him,” Goodell said. “A lot of these [meetings] are also with other people outside our staff, who might be medical professionals. As soon as I get that information I’ll know better.”

That’s fine, but why hasn’t Goodell hasn’t already gotten the information? Gordon has served his time on suspension. If he has stayed clean, passing the various drug tests that suspended players still must submit to, why shouldn’t he be reinstated?

It almost feels as if the NFL is taking its time because it can, forcing the NFL Players Association to clamor for a more expedient process to consider a request for reinstatement after a full year has passed, which in turn would force the NFLPA to make some concession to the league. Indeed, the policy as current written says that “the Commissioner, in his sole discretion, will determine if and when the Player will be allowed to return to the NFL.”

Discretion can still be abused, and with preparations for the 2016 season about to begin in Cleveland, it seems unfair to Gordon and the Browns for a decision to have not yet been made.