After hearing the news that Josh Gordon's DWI in Raleigh, NC over the weekend, I just shook my head and mumbled to myself, what a waste of talent. I wasn’t alone with my thoughts, as some of my friends and some of the people I follow on twitter were saying the same thing. Mike Golic and Mark Schlereth had a little conversation on how playing in the NFL is a privilege and not a right. Golic also went on to say that he has had enough chances in the NFL and it’s time to cut ties with him. As I kept thinking about the issue and wondering if Golic and Schlereth are right, I started to wonder if this is a deeper issue than just a DWI.
Gordon has a history of suspensions. He was suspended 2 times while at the University of Baylor for failing drug tests. He then transferred to Utah and failed another drug test, which he admitted to after being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the supplemental draft. Last year Gordon was suspended for 2 games for violating the league’s drug policy. What you may not know is it was actually a 4 game suspension that was appealed down to a 2 game suspension and being able to play 2 games without pay. When he had the suspension last year I just assumed that it was just for marijuana, when in fact it was for codeine. Codeine is an opioid that can be found in cough syrup. For those of you who don’t know what an opioid is, it is a pain killer. Something players in the NFL know a lot about. Other opioids include morphine, oxycontin, hydrocodone. Pain killers can lead to a life of addiction if improperly used and can ruin anyone’s career not just an extremely talented football player.
While the NFL gets ready to suspend him for a minimum of a year, will the Cleveland Browns consider trying to put a program together to help their young, talented wide receiver out? They have stated that they will prepare for life without Gordon, but should they hold on to him or should he be released? When dealing with a special case like this, most NFL teams will give players a second chance. The Dallas Cowboys implemented some rules with Dez Bryant after he had a few altercations during the first few years of his NFL career. Jerry Jones denies that they put those rules in place but it has seemed to keep Dez out of trouble. Dallas had a very good reason, Bryant was a 1st round pick and had invested a lot of money in him. The Browns haven’t had to invest as much in Josh Gordon, although they had to forfeit their 2nd round pick in the 2013 NFL draft by taking him in the 2nd round pick of the supplemental draft.
Once Gordon is suspended he is not allowed near the facility or able to associate with anyone from the Cleveland Browns organization. Many worry if he will be able to make it a year out of football without getting into more trouble, mainly because he will not have any stability in his life away from football. By taking him away from the organization, will the NFL step in and try to be there for a player that is in obvious need of some help and guidance? If the NFL won't do it, can the NFL players association step in? I know that the NFL probably has programs that educate players on substance abuse during their rookie symposiums. But what do they do for active players after that? Now don’t get me wrong, all players should be held accountable for their actions, and I’m fine with suspending any player for a year because of multiple failed drug tests. But shouldn’t the player be able to be around the facilities? What would it hurt to let the player workout with his teammates and build some relationships with them? This would be a great opportunity to help a person out and help a player out with his problems. Establish guidelines with him to try to help him make it through these difficult times in his life.
Cris Carter, a Hall of Fame wide receiver, had similar problems at the beginning of his football career. After having a few problems in college at The Ohio State University, Carter left college early and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. He had problems with drugs and alcohol and failed 3 drug tests in his first 3 seasons in the NFL. He was essentially traded to the Minnesota Vikings for $100. Carter was able to kick his habits and become one of the best wide receivers of all time. I’m not saying that Josh Gordon is as good as Cris Carter, but could he be? We may never know. Cris Carter stated recently that Gordon as enough talent to make it to Canton if he can clear up his off the field issues. I don’t know if a change of scenery would help Gordon the way it did Carter, but I’m hoping that Gordon finds his way the way Carter did. Everyone enjoys watching very talented players and it would be a shame to wonder of what could have been for Josh Gordon. I for one hope that he gets the help he needs, so we can watch his talent for many more years to come.