Saturday's news that Pittsburgh Steelers' wide receiver Martavis Bryant is facing a one-year suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy certainly caught Steelers' fans off guard, and they are not alone.
"We’re all stunned, me included," Bryant's agent Brian Fettner told USA Today after the news broke. "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."
Fettner added that
Fettner told USA Today he will discuss three clinic options with Bryant, with the hope the receiver will check into a facility on Sunday.
"If you talk to anybody’s family that has depression, they will be talking about these same things — the (despondence), the withdrawal, the head-in-the-sand despair — just trying to cope," Fettner said, adding that Bryant will appeal the suspension. Bryant was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 NFL season after violating the league's substance abuse policy.
The season-long ban is for missing multiple drug tests — not for testing positive — but Fettner did admit Bryant has a problem with marijuana. Missed drug tests count the same as failed tests under the NFL's substance abuse policy.
The Steelers were aware of Bryant's issue when they re-signed Darrius Heyward-Bey to a three-year deal on Monday.
"This is the biggest cry for help I’ve ever seen. And that hurts. It hurts us to see," Fettner said. "He’s 24 years old and he’s got to get right, whatever it is."
Bryant has 76 catches for 1,314 yards and 14 touchdowns in 21 regular-season NFL games, plus another 19 catches for 244 yards and two TDs in three playoff games. He is an explosive playmaker with a bright future ahead of him. However the issues he has been dealing with have hurt his career thus far, so hopefully he will be able to get the help he truly needs.
“This is a long road to earn people’s trust back, but honestly, we can’t even worry about that right now,” Fettner said. “You’ve got to get him healthy.”