The Pittsburgh Steelers may be playing the 2016 season without stud wide receiver Martavis Bryant. It is believed the potential suspension stems from an NFL drug test – one that Bryant is expected to appeal. In the meantime though, reports have surfaced stating Bryant plans to enter rehab immediately.
Speaking with USA Today Sports, Bryant’s agent (Brian Fettner) said, “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. This is the biggest cry for help I’ve ever seen, and that hurts.”
He continued, “It hurts us to see. 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.”
Bryant was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and posted 50 catches, 765 yards and 6 touchdowns in the 11 games he played in.
While no suspension has officially been announced, it is believed the Steelers have been aware of the likely yearlong ban for some time. Pittsburgh signed Darrius Heyward-Bey to a three-year deal this offseason, which appears to be an attempt to fill Bryant’s void.
Pittsburgh has been one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL when Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Bryant take the field together. Unfortunately for the Steelers, injuries and suspensions last season made this a rare combination.
With Bryant out, Pittsburgh will have to rely even more heavily on running back Le’Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown. While both are likely up for the challenge, Bryant’s loss is still a devastating one for a team many are picking to win Super Bowl 51.