It was announced Saturday that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant faced a year-long suspension for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. It was originally believed Bryant would appeal if suspended, but when the NFL announced Monday that he would be banned from the NFL for at least year, Bryant chose not to appeal and has begun serving his suspension immediately.
Drafted in the fourth round out of Clemson University in 2014, Bryant has been very impressive for the Steelers. Playing 10 games in his rookie season, Bryant only caught 26 passes but gained 549 yards and scored eight touchdowns. Last season, Bryant served a four-game suspension for violating the substance abuse policy, but ended up playing in 11 games while catching 50 passes for 765 yards and six scores. In his first two seasons, Bryant has shown an ability to blow past defenders with tremendous speed and stretch out the defense. The trio of Bryant, Markus Wheaton and Antonio Brown is a deadly receiving core, but they struggle to see the field at the same time with Bryant’s suspensions and injury issues.
And now, Bryant faces a very murky future. In a press release, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert stated, “He is at a crossroads of his professional life, and he needs to understand significant changes need to occur in his personal life if he wants to regain his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler.”
This is clearly an issue Bryant needs to address and correct. With a year off from professional football, hopefully he takes the time to enter a rehab facility and work with the same fervor he has through his athletic career in order to correct this very serious problem.
Even more troubling about the situation is Bryant’s agent Brian Fettner’s reasoning for the abuse. Fettner said, “We’re all stunned, me included. We clearly miscalculated the issue. His isn’t a party issue. It’s a coping issue and a depression issue, and he’s got to take care of it.”
Depression can be a very serious condition and is nothing that should ever be taken lightly. If Bryant’s reason for his substance abuse is depression, he does not just need to grow up and mature, but he needs some serious help to get right; and not just for his football life, but for life itself.
We all hope Martavis is able to make it through, and maybe some day could serve as a role model to those suffering depression on a daily basis. Hopefully, this sad story has a happy ending.