It’s highly unlikely that you are reading this article without already having heard that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant was ‘reinstated’ following an indefinite suspension that ultimately lasted about 13 months since March of last year. What you may not be up to speed on is just what the ‘conditional’ part of his conditional reinstatement means.
I might liken it to being on parole, though I admit it’s not a perfect analogy. While I’m not 100 percent certain, I’m under the impression that any lapse of any kind between now and whenever he might be fully reinstated will result in his being returned to being indefinitely suspended, which is what happened to Josh Gordon last year.
Specifically, the league is still looking for clarification from Bryant as to how he will manage his support network over the course of the year in order to ensure that he is not unnecessarily at risk of suffering a relapse into the drug use that got him suspended.
At the moment, Bryant’s conditional reinstatement allows him to rejoin his teammates at the team’s facility and to participate in conditioning workouts and things of that nature. Fortunately, that is the only thing that happens during Phase One of the offseason program, because he would not be permitted to participate in formal football practice right now.
You may have read a week or so ago that the league wanted Bryant to have a ‘relapse plan’. That is still what they are looking for. They are requiring that he find a treating clinician with which he will consult over the course of the season. They also want him to plan for his bye week.
After he fulfills these obligations, he will be able to participate in practices and in preseason games. After that period, the league will evaluate and then will have to approve the plan that he has put together in order to participate in the regular season.
From there, Bryant will be subject to frequent drug testing, naturally, and at some point during the season, he will be evaluated a final time—likely following the bye week I would assume—in order to receive “full” reinstatement.
Only at that point will he be finally and fully free from this current suspension process, even though he will remain at an elevated stage of the league’s drug program, any lapse of which will result in a harsher punishment that could elevate to a banishment at its peak discipline.
This all might seem rather gloomy, but what this ultimately means is that Bryant is on the track to returning, and only an unforeseen derailment will prevent it.
Provided that he takes care of what he has to do and coordinates with a treating clinician to put together an appropriate relapse plan and doesn’t fail any drug tests, he will be good to go. While it may all be conditionally good news, it is still very good news all the same.