Selfish Steelers fans can be forgiven for seeking a silver lining in the news of Martavis Bryant’s suspension. The word that Martavis Bryant would be suspended for a year was not good by any means. Not good for Bryant, and not good for the Steelers 2016 Super Bowl hopes.
- But the early word was that Martavis Bryant would appeal.
That’s where the selfishness kicked in. Given the NFL’s recent track record regarding appeals of disciplinary actions and, if true, given that Bryant had missed two tests and not failed them, there was a reasonable chance that Bryant’s suspension could be dropped to ten games.
- Again, the selfish side of Steelers Nation can be forgiven for salivating a bit, imagining the following….
Standing on a 7-3 record heading into Thanksgiving, the 2016 Pittsburgh Steelers are neck-in-neck with the Baltimore Ravens for both the AFC North title and a possible first round bye. But the Steelers face the stiffest part of their 2016 schedule as November closes. The Steelers offense has been good, but it hasn’t quite broached “great” as Le’Veon Bell has been hampered by injuries, DeAngelo Williams hasn’t quite played to 2015 level, and Ben Roethlisberger is missing Heath Miller’s reliability.
But the Steelers are hopeful as Martavis Bryant is set to rejoin the team, following his 10 game suspension for violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Bryant was originally supposed to miss the entire 2016 season, but he got that full season suspension reduced on appeal, and now will Steelers offense will get an injection of his transformational talent when they need it the most…..
- Fortunately, that isn’t going to happen.
No, “Fortunately” is not a miss print. Rest assured, the Steelers will miss Martavis Bryant. Certainly, Antonio Brown will continue to perform at a high level, Markus Wheaton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Sammie Coates, and Ladarius Green can help pick up the slack. But Martavis Bryant is a game changer.
But neither Martavis Bryant focus should be football now. As Tony Defeo pointed out in explaining why Bryant was a 4th round pick, he’s only played in 21 of a possible 32 games. In other words, in just two seasons he’s missed 45% of the games, and all but one of them have been related to his struggles with substance abuse.
- By dropping his appeal, Martavis Bryant is showing strong signs of maturity.
Steel Curtain Rising does not claim any special expertise or experience with recovery from substance abuse. But admitting you have a problem is the first step in any recovery process. By dropping his appeal and accepting a season-long suspension, Martavis Bryant is admitting that he has serious issues to deal with in life, regardless of whether depression is fueling his substance abuse or whether the reverse is true.
It is true that in 2016 there will be times when Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley are going to wish they could look forward to injecting Martavis Bryant’s “Scary good” talent into the Steelers offense. But those wishes must give way to what’s most important, and that’s giving Martavis Bryant the space he needs to take control of his life.