Today is the first day on which Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant could theoretically receive his reinstatement after serving an indefinite suspension through the 2016 season. Currently, there is no reason to believe that they will happen today, as there has been no report of the requisite player-to-commissioner interview having taken place yet, which is a part of the application process.
We are getting close to an answer, presumably, however, so it was no surprise that Head Coach Mike Tomlin was asked to field a question about Bryant’s future when he sat in for an interview with Missi Matthews for the team’s website yesterday.
Matthews asked the head coach if he or the organization had the opportunity to contact the league about Bryant’s status and whether or not they could be supplied an update about it by a predetermined point in the offseason in order to help their plan take shape.
He did not say whether or not they had the opportunity to do so, but he did say that “we have not asked, whatsoever”.
“We understand that they are in control of that timetable”, he said. “They have multiple things they’re dealing with, not only in terms of issues, but players in his position, some of [whom] have been in that situation longer than he has”, a comment making very obvious reference to Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, who has spent 43 of his past 48 games suspended and has also applied for reinstatement.
“So we’ve got to exercise some patience”, Tomlin went on, “and allow those guys to do what it is that they do, and we’ve got to plan accordingly to the best of our abilities, and I think that’s what we’ve done”.
Matthews also asked Tomlin about what he would have to see from Bryant after a year off and if that were different from a player missing a season due to injury. Tomlin didn’t really want to engage in that question, likely regarding it as a hypothetical unless or until Bryant is actually reinstated.
“I don’t think that we’ve spent a lot of time dwelling on it, to be honest with you”, he began his response. “He’s out of our plans until he’s back in, and that’s the approach that we’ve taken. Obviously, we’re hopeful for him as an individual, personally, but professionally, that train keeps moving, and we’re on it”.
This is nothing that we haven’t already heard at some point during the offseason from some mouthpiece of the organization, but this at least is the first public comments from Tomlin on Bryant in quite a while, which makes it significant.
The Steelers would no doubt love to get some type of resolution on the status of Bryant’s reinstatement in advance of the 2017 NFL Draft, which is about a month away, but they may not have that luxury. As Tomlin said, until he is available to them, he is not in their plans, and that is the approach that must be taken for the time being.