Few teams have gone through as much trouble to try to keep a player around through his off-field struggles in recent years than the Cleveland Browns have with wide receiver Josh Gordon, but it seems that, after his decision to postpone his return attempt to the football field in order to seek further help, the organization has reached its breaking point.
Gordon communicated via social media on Thursday informing the public that he was going to seek further rehabilitation for his substance abuse issues, which he evidently felt was incompatible with the lifestyle of a well-paid and well-travelled professional athlete at this time.
In the wake of his public statement, Brown head coach Hue Jackson told reporters in so many words that it is the organization’s intention to release him. Gordon is currently serving a four-game suspension after he was reinstated in August.
“We wish him well”, Jackson said, but he followed it by saying that the Browns “need to close that chapter right now. We’re moving on”. That is about as direct a way of saying that you intend to release a player without using the word ‘release’.
It is unclear where his eventual release and his rehab process leave the future of his NFL career, if there should ever be one, which would be a great misfortune to the game, as, once upon a time not so long ago, he demonstrated the talent of an individual capable of standing at the precipice of the game during his 2013 All-Pro campaign.
Gordon was on top of the football world at that point after he led the league in receiver yardage, but things took a steady turn for the worse immediately thereafter. Including tomorrow’s game, Gordon will have spent 30 of the final 35 games of his Browns tenure on the suspended list.
It started in 2014 after a DUI arrest and a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. He was initially suspended for the season, but it was reduced to 10 games. He played in five games, but struggled, even though he caught 24 passes for 303 yards.
Gordon was then hit with an indefinite suspension the following season, with the first opportunity for reinstatement roughly a calendar year later. His first attempt to be reinstated was pushed back, and it finally happened in August, but the league mandated that he serve a four-game suspension to start this season.
Now that is all over with the Browns preparing to part ways with the talented but highly troubled athlete, and he certainly has a lot on his plate outside of football, starting with committing to the rehabilitation process.
Complicating matters is the fact that he recently learned through a paternity test that he is the father of a one-year-old girl. He at one point had a warrant out for his arrest tied to that matter. One can’t help but wonder, given the timing of this announcement, and all the Browns have been through with him, if he might have had another violation of the substance abuse policy forthcoming.