NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at St. Louis Rams
Sep 27, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams (34) and head coach Mike Tomlin talk as they walk off the field after defeating the St. Louis Rams 12-6 at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

DeAngelo Williams Believes Suspended Players Should Remain Part of Team

In lieu of the additional season-long suspension handed down to Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, some members of the Pittsburgh Steelers have turned their attention to someone who will return to the field in the future: troubled young wideout Martavis Bryant.

A number of players, most notably vocal running back DeAngelo Williams, addressed the issue of player suspensions in Bryant’s context, arguing that suspended players should still remain part of their team…for their sake.

“How do you expect him to get better?” Williams rhetorically asked reporters on Tuesday. “He should be around his teammates. When you’re 25 years old and a millionaire and you stay in your own neighbourhood, nobody knows what you’re going through.”

Williams makes an excellent point, and one that should be – but almost certainly won’t be – strongly considered by the NFL as a rehabilitative tool in future cases of drug violations by active players. As it stands, the NFL forbids suspended players from making any contact with their franchise, from an absence of communication with coaches or fellow players, to a ban on using the team’s training facilities.

But idle hands are the devil’s tools, and in the case of young, rich men with nothing to do for an entire year, even more so. If Bryant did in fact turn to marijuana are a coping mechanism for his depression, one wonders if being around positive role models at Steelers HQ – despite not being allowed to suit up on Sundays – would be crucial in helping him kick the habit.

If such a proposal had been applied to Josh Gordon, perhaps he would have spent more time preparing mentally and physically for a return, and less time selling used cars in Cleveland or reportedly rooming with Johnny Manziel in Los Angeles.

The usually intolerant Steelers surprised many when they decided to keep Bryant through the suspension; his second in two years. The move showed some level of commitment and patience from a team that is very aware of just how high his ceiling is. Now more than ever, teams with that same mindset need cooperation from the NFL, if rehabilitation is in fact the ultimate goal.

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