TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Barred wide receiver Josh Gordon is fighting his one-game suspension by the Browns for the season finale because it will delay his free agency.
A person familiar with the process said the troubled former Pro Bowler is arguing he should not have been suspended for the last game in Baltimore.
The NFL Players Association filed the grievance last week on behalf of Gordon, the person told The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the union does not make such protests public. Gordon was suspended by the Browns after he missed a walk-through before the team’s flight to Maryland.
Gordon was suspended for the first 10 games for multiple drug violations, and his banishment from the last game cost him a sixth game he needed for an accrued season. He can’t become a restricted free agent until after 2016 and unrestricted until following the 2017 season.
Following last season, Browns coach Mike Pettine said Gordon had been guilty of “multiple violations” of team rules and warned that he could be suspended.
Gordon, who led the league in yards receiving in 2013, was recently suspended by the NFL for one season without pay for violating the drug policy. His latest expulsion came after he tested positive for drinking alcohol. Gordon was arrested in North Carolina in July and because he pleaded guilty, alcohol testing was included in his substance-abuse program under the league’s new guidelines.
Gordon will have to apply for reinstatement with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell next year as long as he complies with his program and stays clean.
Last week, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said the team was disappointed by Gordon’s actions.
“We spent a tremendous amount of time on Josh — everybody in the organization — and at a certain point in time, an individual has got to take care of themselves and do what’s right, not just for themselves, but for the team, the coaches, the people in the building, the fans,” Haslam said. “Josh has failed to accept that responsibility. I hope he can get his life together. He’s immensely gifted.
“But he’s obviously going to be away from football for a year, so he’s not going to be in the building. So at least for a year, we’ve moved on from Josh. I wish him well. I hope he can get his act together because he’s a very gifted athlete.”
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