Who Is Martavis Bryant and Why Was He Susspended By The NFL?

While the NFL has continued to campaign for zero tolerance against drug abuse, former Oakland Raiders star Martavis Bryant has joined the long list of players who have been found wanting in that regard. The American football wide receiver is well-known for his rangy frame and passing/catching abilities, nevertheless, his abuse of the league’s drug policy has become a deterrent to his football career.

He is currently serving an indefinite suspension for using hard drugs such as marijuana to enhance his performance in the field. Interestingly, this isn’t the first time the player has been busted in such an act.

Martavis Bryant’s Early Years and Career Beginning

A very talented football wide receiver, Martavis Bryant was one of the stars of the Oakland Raiders of the NFL. He signed with the team in 2018 after his stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers ended in 2017. Meanwhile, he began his career journey in 2014 when he was picked by the Steelers of the NFL. He was drafted in the fourth round with the 118th pick that year. Prior to his NFL career, Bryant played college football at Clemson University where he led the Clemson Tigers to win the ACC Championship in 2011.

Martavis Bryant was born on the 20th day of December 1991. The football player was born in Calhoun Falls of South Carolina in the United States. He was raised by a single parent Roberta Bryant and there is no much detail regarding his childhood. Bryant developed an interest in sports from a young age and when in high school, he participated in various sporting events, including track and field, as well as football. He went to Calhoun Falls High School before moving to T.L. Hanna High School where he completed his high school career.

During his high school football stint, Martavis played the wide receivers position for his school team. For his excellent performance, he got All-State First-team honors in his senior year after making 70 receptions and 11 touchdowns. At the end of his high school career, he was rated four-star by websites like Rivals.com and 247 Sports.com. In order to scale through NCAA eligibility, Martavis spent one year at Hargrave Military Academy before going to Clemson University.

Joining the Clemson Tigers football team for his college career in 2011; Martavis competed for the starting shirt alongside DeAndre Hopkins and Jaron Brown. In his first season, he led the Tigers to win the ACC Championship after making nine receptions and two touchdowns in the season. As a sophomore, Martavis stepped up his game, finishing the season with a record of ten receptions and four touchdowns. He hauled 42 receptions and seven touchdowns in his junior year in 2013. After that, Bryant decided to give up his last college season in order to join the NFL draft of 2014.

A Rundown of His Professional Career Exploits

Martavis Bryant
Bryant in action for the Raiders

During the NFL draft of 2014, Martavis Bryant was picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He penned his first professional contract in June 2014 and the contract worth $2.65 million lasted four years with a signing bonus of $439,220. Joining the Steelers squad, Martavis missed his team’s first six games due to injuries. At the end of his rookie season, Bryant scored eight touchdowns and 26 receptions in ten games and three starts for the Steelers. His 21.1 yards per reception placed him on top of the 2014 NFL wide receivers ranking.

The following year, after serving a four-game suspension for breaching the league’s drug-abuse policy, Martavis Bryant made a few appearances for the Steelers. During such time, he recorded two touchdowns, including an 88-yard touchdown and caught six passes for 137 yards in their victory over the Arizona Cardinals. He also recorded a season-high 178 receiving yards on six catches and scored a 64-yard touchdown during a match against Cleveland Browns. Afterwards, he was banned from playing football the entire 2016 season following his infraction of the same drug policy.

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During the 2017 season, the wide receiver was conditionally reinstated by the league management after a series of appeal. He rejoined his team, assuming the starting wide receiver position for the Steelers. In the course of the season, the renowned NFL player expressed his discontent about his lack of participation in the team’s offence on his social media handle, and then failed to attend their next compulsory team meeting. He went on to complain about his dissatisfaction on ESPN and made known of his desire to be traded. This prompted the head coach, Mike Tomlin to announce that Bryant wasn’t going anywhere. After the incident, he was demoted to the scout team and substituted with JuJu Smith-Schuster.


However, he gained promotion to the first team on 1st November 2017, as he played against Indianapolis Colts. Martavis Bryant hauled a total of 50 receptions and three touchdowns at the end of the season. He was further traded to the Oakland Raiders in April 2018 in exchange for the Raiders 3rd round pick in the 2018 draft. Martavis was released by the Raiders prior to the inception of the 2018 season for fear of possible suspension. He was later re-signed on a one-year deal by the Raiders. He played 8 games, making 19 receptions for the team before he was placed on the injury list.

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Reasons Behind His Suspensions

Martavis Bryant’s ordeal started on 27th of August, 2015 when he received a four-game suspension for breaching the league’s drug abuse policy. He was sent to a rehabilitation centre in Houston, Texas and there, he worked with the former NBA coach, John Lucas. Upon his return, Bryant couldn’t play because of an injury he sustained. Later, on the 14th of March, 2016, he was banned for the entire 2016 NFL season for contravening the league’s drug abuse policy again after he failed the drug test.


The talented player was conditionally reinstated during the 2017 season by the league management after a series of appeal. Then, on 14th of December 2018, Bryant was given an indefinite suspension by the National Football League Management. This happened as a result of him breaching the agreement stated in his conditional reinstatement. The wide receiver who blended so well in the Raiders squad along with Amari Cooper and others has experienced a series of downturns in his professional career. His contract with the Raiders elapsed at the end of the 2018 season and the future of the player looks bleak.

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Intriguing Details About His Application For Reinstatement

Following his indefinite suspension by the league in the fall of 2018, Martavis Bryant applied for reinstatement into the NFL on 15th July 2019. Before then, the former Steelers and Oakland Raiders wide receiver had been working with the NFL and National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) on measures he needed to take in order to address his mental health problems with resources such as attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) treatments and therapists. In addition to that, he also presented himself for drug testing during that time.

Recently, there are speculations that Martavis Bryant has been reinstated by the NFL, which is yet to be confirmed by the league’s management. Interestingly, the news of his rumoured reinstatement elated some fans of Pittsburgh Steelers, who are now clamouring for the team to give their former player a second chance. The fans’ appeal to the club is currently making waves and it makes sense in a way, because of the shortage in offence options on the team at the moment. However, if the rumour about his reinstatement were to be true, then Martavis Bryant would currently be a free agent, ready to grab his shot at playing in the NFL with both hands.

Ikenna Nwobodo
Ikenna Nwobodo
Ikenna has been writing or editing for several websites and publications for over 4 years, When he is not writing, he likes taking adventures, playing the piano or singing, and hanging out with friends.


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