It comes as almost no surprise these days when the NFL makes a bad decision or implements a bad rule and that reality was on full display for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant last season.
Bryant was suspended for the entire 2016 season after violating the league’s substance-abuse policy and it was a justified suspension for a young man who couldn’t make the right decision despite repeated opportunities. However, what happens after a player is suspended for substance abuse is where the league gets it entirely wrong.
Rather than allowing teams to provide them the support that could help them turn their lives around, NFL rules prohibit team officials from having any contact with a suspended player whatsoever. They can’t do welfare checks and stay involved in the player’s life to help make sure that he’s doing the right things to put his mistakes behind him.
For Bryant, that isolation was torture and at one point he even contemplated giving up football altogether, according to a report from Jacob Klinger of PennLive.com on Sunday.
The Steelers have previously attempted to have the rules changed to allow suspended players access to the team facility and coach Mike Tomlin is all for revisiting that rule which was tabled after the league and the union couldn’t come to an agreement on its implementation. But it’s clear that a change is needed.
Bryant was lucky because the birth of his son while suspended helped him get his life back on track. However, he could have easily fallen through the cracks and that’s the byproduct of a senseless policy — which has become the norm in the National Football League.
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