NFL Bans Steelers’ Martavis Bryant For 2016 Season

Martavis Bryant has been suspended for at least one year. The NFL announced its stance on the situation Monday. Bryant is being banned for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The suspension begins immediately and is to be served without pay. He was expected to earn $600,000 in 2016.

Steelers’ general manager Kevin Colbert expressed his sentiments via ESPN. He revealed that the organization is “very disappointed” with the actions of Bryant.

“He is at a crossroads of his professional life, and he needs to understand significant changes need to occur in his personal life if he wants to regain his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler.”

Colbert went on to say that they are not giving up on Bryant. He explained that he needs to make the right moves to be welcomed back.

NFL Bans

“We are hopeful that Martavis will take the necessary steps to develop the discipline in his personal life to become a successful player and a good teammate.”

As reported by the Inquisitr, Bryant’s agent, Tom Santanello, said the receiver was planning to appeal the suspension. Bryant was suspended four games to start the 2015 season after failing multiple drug tests. After being suspended, he traveled to Houston, Texas, to rehab with John Lucas. Art Rooney II expressed earlier this year that the team would stand by him and help him in any way possible.

Last year, the NFL suspended Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon for a minimum of one year for violating the substance abuse policy. He appealed the suspension, but the ruling was upheld by an arbitrator. Gordon has applied for reinstatement, but remains suspended. It’s far from guaranteed that the speedy Bryant will be playing after the year is done.

Brian Fettner, another of Bryant’s agents, was quoted by USA Today. He stated that the drug problems are a result of a severe bout of depression.

“We’re all stunned, me included,” Fettner said. “We clearly miscalculated the issue. His isn’t a party issue. It’s a coping issue and a depression issue, and he’s got to take care of it.”

The NFL’s marijuana policy is demanding, in its stipulations. Bryant was guilty of missing multiple testing dates for substance abuse. Missing the scheduled dates prompts a one-year suspension for “failure to cooperate with testing, treatment, evaluation or other requirements” or a positive test for a substance other than marijuana.

This is the second league-mandated discipline for Bryant, 24. He sat out the first four games last season after a violation during the off-season. Bryant caught 50 passes for 765 yards and six touchdowns after he returned in Week 6 and was dynamic in the playoffs. He made an acrobatic touchdown catch in a Wild Card round victory over Cincinnati. Bryant accounted for more than 200 yards of total offense in a loss to Denver in the Divisional round.

The Steelers were looking at Bryant’s development as a vital aspect of their 2016 plans. His emergence as a solid weapon, with Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton, was a key factor in Pittsburgh’s transformation to a deep-passing threat.

NFL Bans

According to Ian Rapoport, Bryant can apply for reinstatement after 60 days after the ban’s termination.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has called Bryant a “little brother” at times. He knows what the talented receiver is capable of doing. Before the January 9 Wild Card round in Cincinnati, Big Ben had words of encouragement for his teammate.

“Does he want to crumble and wilt and pout and let it bother him? Or does he want to rise up, step up, say ‘I’ll take that challenge’ and does he want to be the best in the world?”

Bryant will have a year to think about it.

[Photo by Ted S. Warren/AP]