There is so much that we still do not know about Martavis Bryant. About who he is now. About who he was then. About what he might have done, and what he might do in the future. The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver understandably values his privacy. But he also understands the doubt.
He has had quite a bit of it himself, after all. When he learned of his 2016 suspension, which was to be indefinite, he was ready to turn the indefinite to the definite. He was ready to quit. He agent had other ideas.
“You’re too ****ing good to quit”, Tom Santanello, his agent, told him, according to Jacob Feldman, writing for Monday Morning Quarterback in a new article that talks about his path over the course of the past couple of years, and the uncertainty that remains.
There seems to be no universal perception of Bryant’s habits over the past few years. For one thing, he denies his agent’s claim that he was battling depression. And he also denies all other theories purported by others: bad influences from ‘back home’; a new crowd after the draft; self-medicating the pressures of the NFL life.
Bryant’s own theory for his actions is much simpler, and straight to the point. “I was young and dumb”, he said. Feldman relays a story about how naïve he was to the NFL’s drug program when he came into the league.
The first thing that he learned about it came, supposedly, when he found “a note on his locker after one of those first practices”, which said that he would be due to be subject to testing in the next four hours. He failed. But it didn’t matter.
“I smoked because I was able to”, he said at the time. About the drug program, he “paid it no mind”.
It’s a different story now, or so he says, and so many would like to believe. He recalls the early days of withdrawals when he quit smoking marijuana a year ago, wondering aloud why he couldn’t sleep.
While he now resides 20 minutes from Las Vegas, he doesn’t frequent the area. “It feels really quiet here”, he says of his Henderson residence, where he rides his ATV in peace. And he trains not far away, now distancing himself from his prior stomping grounds in LA.
Bryant said that when he began training last year, he couldn’t even get through a workout without throwing up. “A year later he was running 100‑yard sprints in 102° weather and doing pull-up sets with 35 pounds of weights strapped to him”, Feldman writes.
There are many who are going to remain unconvinced about how Bryant has reformed himself both on and off the field until they see the proof. He knows that. And he is looking forward to providing them with more proof than they can ever hope to discredit.