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Josh Gordon’s Troubled Past, Predicting His NFL Future


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By Domenic Casparriello and Eric Gould

The Patriots’ week three loss to the Detroit Lions has caused an uptick in panic among Patriots fans around New England. The defensive line could not provide pressure with Trey Flowers being sidelined with a concussion, and the offense could not get anything going in the passing game with only three wide receivers active.

This arguably embarrassing loss to a previously 0-2 Lions team leaves many scratching their head, searching for a solution, especially for the struggling offense. With the clock ticking for Tom Brady (age 41), the Patriots do not want to waste the remainder of his best days.

Perhaps former Browns second round pick wide receiver Josh Gordon can help give this offense a much needed lift. The Patriots took a chance on the troubled receiver after their week two loss to the Jaguars, trading a fifth round pick for Gordon. Although the 6’3, 225 pound athlete has elite size, strength, and speed (running a 4.3 40 yard dash), he has a very dark past when it comes to substance abuse.

Gordon came into the league as a rookie in 2012, his drug abuse from his college and high school days stuffed under the rug. In fact, Gordon played all 16 games that year, logging an impressive 50 catches for over 800 yards and 5 touchdowns.

The towering wideout showed amazing potential, and by 2013 worked his way into the top echelon of receivers in the National Football League.

However, in the 2013 second season, Gordon was suspended the first two games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Cleveland did not seem too concerned for the 22 year old’s well-being and did not get him help or hold him accountable.

Still, the young wide receiver put together a record year for any receiver, catching 87 balls for 1646 yards–a number which led the NFL. That is not even to mention Gordon’s nine touchdowns. Gordon earned first team All-Pro as well as became a first time Pro-Bowler.

Before the 2014 season, Gordon’s third year, even came around, Gordon was arrested for a DUI. He was speeding, and when the police officer pulled him over they discovered his blood alcohol level was over the legal limit. Two months after this initial arrest, Gordon was suspended the entire 2014 season because he failed the NFL’s drug testing (marijuana). This suspension was later decreased to ten games, still a hefty price to pay for the young, troubled star.

After playing a mediocre five games after this lengthy suspension, Gordon was again suspended one game by his team for violating team rules, allegedly showing up late to practice due to partying late the night before.

Fast forward a year to 2015, and things did not get any better for the now 24 year-old Gordon. He was suspended the entire 2015 season for again violating the league’s substance abuse policy (alcohol). The question was different now for Gordon than it had been as a rookie and a second year player. It used to be, “How good can Gordon be?” Now the question was, “Will he get the help he needs as a person, and will he be given another chance?”

Gordon stated publicly and adamantly that he “failed himself” as a teenager going down the path of drinking and drugs. Not having a choice anyways, Gordon unofficially stepped away from football to better himself as a person. The Josh Gordon world fell silent in the 2015 season while he tried to better himself.

When 2016 rolled around, even more doubt about Gordon’s future hit the media. The wide receiver had failed yet another drug test, and when he filed for reinstatement into the NFL, he was denied because of this reason.

By some miracle, the NFL reinstated Gordon in July of 2016 despite still having him suspended for four games.

When week five came, NFL fans everywhere anticipated his return. However, Gordon did not play. He came out publicly stating, “After careful thought and deep consideration, I’ve decided that I need to step away from pursuing my return to the Browns and my football career to enter an in-patient rehabilitation facility.”

Finally, it seemed Gordon was taking his addiction seriously, and putting his well-being ahead of his pride and his football career.

He officially stepped away this time, meaning he was officially not in the NFL any longer. Once he put in an application to return to the Browns, which he was technically still contractually able to do, the NFL denied his reinstatement for a second time. Upon further evaluation, he was granted conditional eligibility, with the potential to be active in Week 13 of the 2017 season.

Even five years removed from being a young rookie, coupled with his troubling lifestyle, Gordon was still electric on the field in his return, putting up 18 catches for 335 yards and a touchdown.

Finally, the current 2018 season is here, and Josh Gordon began the preseason away from the Cleveland Browns to focus on a treatment plan to keep him sober, healthy, and making smart decisions.

In a recent article on Boston.com, he sent Browns head coach Hue Jackson words of encouragement about his situation, saying, “I am reaching out to you all personally and letting you know that I am not only doing great physically but mentally as well.”

When he finally returned to the Browns in the waning days of preseason, it finally seemed like Josh “Flash” Gordon was a different man, committed, powerful, strong. However, he only ended up playing one game for the Browns, their opener. Gordon scored a touchdown on his only reception.

Gordon was then inactive for the team’s week two contest, he had pulled his hamstring earlier in the week. Browns coach Hue Jackson was not pleased that Gordon’s injury came not at the hands of practice, but during a promotional photoshoot for a commercial.

General Manager John Dorsey announced after week two that he was going to cut Gordon after all these years of putting up with his antics. However, Gordon is too good to simply be cut, he has potential to be a top ten receiver in the NFL. Instead of cutting him, the Browns decided to field trade offers first. That is where the Patriots came in and took him.

Everyone knows Bill Belichick’s “Patriot Way” means behaving like a grown man and acting appropriately on and off the field. Belichick’s willingness to cut anyone, even the best of talents if they break this rule means this is the perfect place for Gordon.

Immediately the Patriots put his locker right next to Quarterback Tom Brady’s, and the team seems committed to making sure that Gordon is taken care of by the best leaders on the team. Pro-Bowl Special Teamer Matthew Slater said he would “be there” whenever Gordon needed it, extending a loving hand from the very beginning.

Further reports came out saying Gordon has made a strong first impression with coaching staff and teammates, keeping his head straight and just playing football.

Could this be the year Josh Gordon turns his career, his life around? With veteran leaders around him, and a hall of fame QB at his disposal, things are looking up for the star receiver.

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Josh Gordon’s Troubled Past, Predicting His NFL Future