On Thursday the Massachusetts Pirates of the Indoor Football League (IFL) announced that they have signed former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant.
In a written statement released by the team, Bryant said, in part: “I’m excited to get into pads again and grateful to the Mass. Pirates for giving me this opportunity, and allowing me to come in and represent their organization in preparation [for] the CFL season. I look forward to contributing any way I can…. I know a few of the players on the roster and am looking forward to stepping on the field with them.”
Bryant makes reference to the CFL in his statement because it was little more than two months ago when Bryant, 29, signed a contract with the Toronto Argonauts. So Bryant may play only a handful of games for the Pirates before the 2021 CFL preseason begins on Sunday, May 23, with the regular season getting underway on Thursday, June 10.
According to the team’s press release, Bryant and his Pirates teammates will begin training camp next week in preparation for the club’s first season in the IFL.
Martavis Bryant Remains Suspended by the NFL
Of course, the reason Bryant is pursuing opportunities in the CFL and IFL is because he remains banned from the NFL.
Bryant has been out of football since December 14, 2018, when the NFL issued a statement that read: “Effective immediately, Martavis Bryant has been returned to the Reserve/Commissioner Suspended list for violating the terms of his April 2017 conditional reinstatement under the Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.”
Prior to his 2018 indefinite suspension, he had been suspended three times in four seasons for multiple substance abuse policy violations and he missed the 2017 season in its entirety.
Bryant is a Former Fourth-Round Draft Pick
Martavis Bryant entered in the NFL in 2014 when Pittsburgh selected him in the fourth round (No. 118 overall). Bryant played in 36 games with the Steelers and caught a total of 126 passes for 1,917 yards and 17 touchdowns, an average of 15.2 yards per reception. Most notably, he caught three 80+ yard touchdown passes in his first 11 games in the NFL.
Ultimately the Steelers traded Bryant to the Oakland Raiders for a third-round draft choice. Yet he struggled in Oakland, catching 19 passes in eight games for 266 yards before landing on injured reserve with a knee injury.
He is also responsible for one of the most oft-referenced tweets ever posted by a Steelers player. In the moments after the team drafted wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round of the 2017 draft, Martavis tweeted out the message: “lol that’s Sammie coates replacement not minds [sic] take it how you want to I am back.”
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The Pirates’ Season Opener is April 24
The Pirates are scheduled to play 16 games this year, opening on April 24 at the Louisville Xtreme and finishing on August 21 against the Iowa Barnstormers. The IFL features a dozen teams, but the Pirates—based in Worcester—are the only franchise on the East Coast.
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