Facing indefinite banishment for repeat violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant will check into rehab and undergo evaluation for depression issues, one of his agents, Brian Fettner, told USA TODAY Sports.
“We’re all stunned, me included,” Fettner said, shortly after broke news of the ban Saturday. “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 had just landed in Florida and planned to discuss three clinic options with Bryant later Saturday, he said. The plan is for Bryant to enter rehab Sunday, Fettner said, though Bryant’s other agent, Tom Santanello, said nothing would happen before Monday as they continue to sort through their appeals options.
Fettner confirmed Bryant is appealing the ban, though getting it overturned is seen as a long shot. It stems from multiple missed drug tests, Fettner said, while also acknowledging Bryant has a problem with marijuana.
The multiple missed tests – which count the same as failed tests – explains why Bryant faces banishment for at least one year, rather than a 10-game suspension for his latest violation after serving a four-game suspension to start last season.
“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.
“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.”
.One of the game’s electrifying young playmakers, 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.
Further substance abuse violations, however, could keep him from seeing the field again. If the ban stands on appeal, Bryant must apply for reinstatement by the commissioner and can do so in no less than one calendar year.
“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.”
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