Unless the Pittsburgh Steelers take it upon themselves to suspend running backs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount for the season opener against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field following them being caught in possession of marijuana during a traffic stop Wednesday afternoon in Ross Township, both will likely suit up and play in that game.
According to a Thursday morning blog post by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, while the two running backs probably face a future suspension of some kind, it won’t likely come anytime soon. John Clayton of ESPN agrees with that sentiment as well.
“Can’t see any league suspensions this year for L. Bell and L. Blount of the Steelers. It took 10 months for D Bowe to get his suspension,” Clayton wrote Thursday afternoon on Twitter.
For starters, the league will probably have to wait until the legal process runs its course and judging by the early reports, that could still take a few weeks even though both players have now been officially charged.
If you are looking for a recent situation with another NFL player to compare this one to, you need not look any farther than what happened over a year ago to Buffalo Bills linebacker Nigel Bradham.
Bradham, who was was charged with marijuana possession after a traffic stop last August, wasn’t suspended by the league until just last month for violating the substance-abuse policy. It should be noted, however, that Tonawanda Town Justice gave Bradham a six-month Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal of the charges as long as he behaved for the next six months.
We will see over the coming weeks whether or not Bell and Blount are let off just as easy as Bradham was, but if not, I still would be surprised to see either of the two be handed down a suspension during the first half of the 2014 season. It sounds like we might be waiting until the offseason before this finally plays itself all the way out.