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"I'd like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Cleveland Browns organization and our fans," Gordon said in a statement. "I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn't exercise better discretion and judgment in my case."
As NFL.com reports, last year's league-leading wideout has waited for word on his future since the second day of May's draft, when we first learned that Gordon faced a potentially lengthy suspension for a positive drug test. Gordon was also suspended two games by the league last year for violating the substance abuse policy.
In an effort to fight his punishment this year, Gordon's camp participated in a marathon appeal session earlier this month in front of arbitrator Harold Henderson.
"Appeals officer Harold Henderson has upheld the suspension for the 2014 NFL season of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. The suspension is effective immediately," the league said Wednesday in a statement.
Losing Gordon all but cripples Cleveland's meager passing offense, stripping the Browns of the most exciting playmaker they've employed since the team's return to the league in 1999. Gordon's monster 1,646-yard campaign came despite the third-year wideout playing just 14 games and catching balls from the likes of Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell.
Without Gordon on the field, quarterback Brian Hoyer (and/or Johnny Manziel) will lean heavily on Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron and a ground game led by Ben Tate and rookie Terrance West.
At wideout, Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins seem to have the most potential.
Hawkins was signed as an upgrade in the slot over the unreliable Davone Bess. As NFL.com's Marc Sessler suggests, Hawkins impressed in camp, but he fits better as a No. 3 with a beast like Gordon drawing top cornerbacks. Hawkins brings impressive speed, but his 5-foot-7 frame raises concerns in the rough-and-tumble AFC North.
Meanwhile, Austin has had a tough summer, struggling to develop chemistry with his quarterbacks and sporting a shoddy 42.9 catch percentage. Two years removed from a 66-grab season, a healthy Austin is set up well for a bounce-back outing, but he seems like a risky proposition at best for fantasy owners. The upside is there. But we all remember the downside (including lengthy hamstring-related absences during his final seasons in Dallas).