HomeSportsNFLSteelers’ Cam Heyward advocates for NFL to reinstate former teammate Martavis Bryant, Josh Gordon after drug suspension

Steelers’ Cam Heyward advocates for NFL to reinstate former teammate Martavis Bryant, Josh Gordon after drug suspension

by Chandler Vessels
Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward is advocating for his former teammate Martavis Bryant to be reinstated
Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward wants to see his former teammate, Martavis Bryant, back in the NFL. Bryant has not played in the league since the 2018 season, after which he received an indefinite suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policy.

However, with the changing landscape of the league’s rules, Heyward believes Bryant deserves another chance. The NFL updated its drug policy in 2020 to relax both the potential punishment for and likelihood of testing positive for marijuana, the drug Bryant used. Since then, players are not tested during the offseason and the threshold for a positive test has been raised.

On an episode of his podcast, Not Just Football with Cam Heyward, Heyward made his case for both Bryant and former Pro Bowl receiver Josh Gordon.

“You look at guys like Martavis Bryant and you look at Josh Gordon and you see that the rules in the NFL have changed,” he said. “If those things had changed before, those guys wouldn’t be out of the league. Those guys can play in the NFL. They’ve proven that. Let’s see if they can continue to do it and they work their way back up.”

Bryant showed great potential during his first two years in Pittsburgh, making a name for himself as one of the league’s best deep threats. Although he missed 11 games, he still managed 76 catches for 1,314 yards and 14 touchdowns.

But Bryant saw his career derailed by a number of positive drug tests. He received a four-game suspension to begin the 2015 season and then missed the entire 2016 season after another positive result. He returned in 2017 to record 50 catches for 603 yards and three touchdowns. Pittsburgh traded him to the Raiders the following season, and he played eight games before receiving another suspension.

Gordon similarly has received numerous suspensions under the league’s drug policy. He has twice been reinstated and most recently played for the Tennessee Titans in 2022.

Martavis Bryant, Josh Gordon make move to the XFL

Both Bryant and Gordon played in the XFL this past season. Bryant played for the Vegas Vipers while Gordon was a member of the Seattle Sea Dragons.

Gordon finished second on the team with 38 catches for 540 yards and four touchdowns. Bryant’s numbers were a bit less impressive as he had 14 catches for 154 yards.

With multiple XFL players signing NFL contracts this spring, it begs the question of whether either player could receive another chance.

“I don’t like being the judge, jury and executioner saying a guy can’t play in the NFL after he’s played in the XFL,” Heyward said. “It’s not there to die. They’re there to expand. They’re there to keep the game growing.

“…It doesn’t just have to be from college to the NFL. It could be from XFL to the NFL or it could be from flag football or rugby. The more you continue to just have different avenues of where football can come from, the more it’s gonna continue to better your game.”

Bryant and Gordon are both in their 30s, so there’s also a question of how much they could contribute now. But Heyward certainly brings up an interesting discussion on the league’s drug policies and how they are evolving.