Martavis Bryant: a talented player given another opportunity to prove himself


Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia Commons

Martavis Bryant with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016. Bryant left for the Oakland Raiders in 2018 and is currently playing for the Vegas Vipers of the XFL.

Ethan K.

“Martavis Bryant suspended indefinitely by NFL for substance abuse violation,” wrote every sports news source on December 14, 2018. 

The 6’4” receiver was a rising star as a Pittsburgh Steeler, being the perfect complement to legendary talent Antonio Brown. The duo highlighted one of the league’s best offenses as the Steelers were nearly impossible to derail. 

Unfortunately, while defenses could not stop Bryant, off-the-field issues could. 

Given a one year suspension from play by the NFL for violating the substance abuse policy, the Clemson alumnus found his career put on hold in mid March of 2016. The former Tiger got his career back on track in Pittsburgh before leaving for Oakland to suit up as a Raider. It was then, just months into his career in the black and silver, that Bryant was indefinitely suspended or banned from playing in the world’s best football league, once again as a result of misusing illicit substances.

Following stints with minor league teams across the continent, Bryant wound up in the 2023 XFL (Xtreme Football League) Draft and was selected to the Vegas Vipers by way of the fifth pick. On paper, the Vipers are simply another experimental franchise for Bryant to play football with, but the XFL is already gaining traction as a result of intriguing new rule concepts like adjusting kickoffs and offering a three-point conversion. 

With talented players on every club’s roster, the talent pool for the rejuvenated league is still very solid. Bryant’s immense talent that led to his domination of CB2s in the NFL was on display, as his height and athleticism make him difficult to cover. His route running is not nearly as smooth as it once was and he lacks the explosiveness of his past self, but the ridiculous size and soft hands are still attached to the Vegas wideout.

Though a path back to the league will be difficult, Bryant applied for reinstatement to the NFL, which is yet to be granted. However, with the league adjusting their substance misuse policy and abruptly stopping the testing of marijuana, the current Viper has a chance at a return.

For Martavis Bryant, many Steelers fans will remember the glorious acrobatic catches that elevated him into the football world’s spotlight, but also the downfall of an incredibly talented receiver. As he continues to do well in the XFL, and hopefully regain some of the electric speed that added to his game years ago, Bryant may fortunately see one more opportunity in the National Football League to display the out-of-this-world potential that he once obtained.