"Could" being the operative word.
Last week, Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was punished for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Considering the punishment he was given, Gordon could be looking at a full-season suspension if he violates the policy one more time, league sources told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Saturday.
Gordon was suspended for two games and fined four game checks on Friday for his violation, which is believed to be his second, because suspension is an option only when a player has violated the policy more than once. According to Cabot, Gordon's suspension likely means he has been pushed into Stage 3 of the NFL's substance-abuse program, where he faces the possibility of a full-year suspension with another failed test. However, Cabot isn't certain that Gordon is actually at Stage 3 or whether he is still at Stage 2.
"If Gordon is still in Stage 2 after this current episode, he'd face a six-game suspension if he fails another test," Cabot wrote. "But at least one NFL source said Gordon's track record has likely landed him in the third and final phase of the program."
Friday's suspension stems from a failed drug test that Gordon blamed on some cough syrup he ingested to fight strep throat in February. That cough syrup contained codeine, which is a prohibited substance in the NFL.
All of this will be meaningless if Gordon doesn't violate the policy again. We can only hope. To state the obvious, a two-game suspension is small potatoes compared to a full-season ban.