It was good while it lasted. That’s the general consensus of Pittsburgh Steelers fans when it comes to the incredible talent that once was.
Wide receiver Martavis Bryant was putting up some stellar numbers for the Black & Gold and looked to be on his way to a promising career. Only it was cut short by his inability to pass drug tests. Marijuana was his drug of choice, one that the NFL had a strict policy against but has grown more lax on over the years.
“You look at guys like Martavis Bryant, and you look at Josh Gordon, and you see that the rules of the NFL have changed,” Heyward said on his “Not Just Football with Cam Heyward” podcast. “If those things had changed before, those guys wouldn’t be out of the league. Those guys can play in the NFL. They’ve proven that. Let’s see if they can continue to do it, and they work their way back up.”
Both Bryant and Gordon are members of XFL 3.0, the league revived by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in August 2020, which kicked off in April 2023. Bryant is on the roster of Rod Woodson‘s Las Vegas Vipers, while former Cleveland Browns standout Gordon, plays for the Seattle Sea Dragons.
The two were on the receiving end of multiple suspensions during their time in the NFL. Bryant was suspended indefinitely December 14, 2018, for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement from a previous ban. It was his third suspension in four seasons.
Heyward, Bryant’s teammate from 2014-2015, 2017 and Steelers NFLPA representative, would like to see him get another shot to play in the NFL.
Bryant, 31, still hasn’t been reinstated by the league after last suiting up for the Oakland Raiders on November 11, 2018. In eight games with the Vipers, Bryant registered 14 receptions for 154 yards.
Martavis Bryant’s Career With the Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger wanted a tall receiver. And he got one. In the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected virtually unknown Martavis Bryant. The lanky 6-foot-4 Clemson product was inactive the first six weeks of the season after an underwhelming off- and preseason.
Bryant had raw talent but gobs of promise, which showed in the 10 games remaining of his rookie season. In his first year (which also happened to be the best season of Antonio Brown’s career), he racked up 549 yards on 26 catches for a whopping 21.12 yards per. He registered two 100+ yard games in four weeks, including a 94-yard bomb of a touchdown delivered beautifully by Ben Roethlisberger, and things were looking up for the youngster.
Then came the summer. He started off his second season on the commissioner’s naughty list when, on August 27th, 2015, Bryant received a four-game suspension for violating the then-strict marijuana use guidelines of the substance abuse policy.
In his first game off suspension, October 18, 2015, Roethlisberger connected with Bryant six times on eight targets for 137 yards and two touchdowns. He would put up two more 100+ yard games in the second half of the season for what became a career 765-yard season. He was back!
Not so fast.
Bryant was busted again, this time receiving a season-long suspension on March 14, 2016. He returned in 2017 to a team that had just drafted a player by the name of JuJu Smith-Schuster. Fed up over his usage and playing time, Bryant was shipped to the Oakland Raiders for a third-round draft pick (later be the pick used in a trade to move up three spots to select Mason Rudolph) in 2018.
Not surprisingly, Bryant was suspended indefinitely for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement. He’s bounced around various leagues, never really gaining his footing.