Welker, Mathis, Gordon Among Suspended

Wes Welker Denver Broncos FootballNEW YORK (AP) — Wes Welker. Robert Mathis. Aldon Smith. Josh Gordon.

A solid quartet to put on any NFL field. Except that they are among 29 players suspended by the league heading into the 2014 season.

Among those big names, Cleveland’s Gordon got the longest ban, sidelined for the entire season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. His absence might be the most damaging, too, and not only for its length. A Pro Bowl wide receiver, Gordon was the only established target on the Browns, who figured to be an also-ran even with him in the lineup.

That Gordon’s case lingered for weeks while appeals were heard, and was not decided until just before the season, didn’t help the Browns, either.