Josh Gordon may be one step closer to returning to the Cleveland Browns in 2016.
Josh Gordon’s impending return to the NFL and the Cleveland Browns became one step closer to reality, as news broke this morning of Gordon applying for reinstatement from his one year suspension for a banned substance.
As Gordon prepares for his return to the field the question of can you trust the star wide receiver who is a multiple offender of the substance abuse policy moving forward? Can you rely on him to stay clean and pick up where he left off setting team receiving records? Can he be the big, vertical threat that head coach Hue Jackson craves for his offense in 2016?
All these questions that need to be answered as the star receiver makes his way back to Berea and back into the orange and brown.
League policy allows a player to apply for reinstatement 60 days prior to the suspension ending. Gordon whose suspension was enforced beginning February 3, 2015, would technically have been eligible to apply for reinstatement 60 days prior to that date. It is unclear if Gordon applied prior to the last few days, but it is confirmed his application is in.
With that being said will Roger Goodell lift the ban and can Gordon return to that Pro Bowl form?
The run-ins off the field for Gordon are well documented.
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In 2013 he had to sit out the first two games of the season for testing positive for a banned substance which Gordon blamed on a prescription cough medicine he was prescribed. Gordon returned after the suspension, making the Pro Bowl and leading the league with 1,646 yards receiving despite playing just 14 games.
He then pleaded guilty to driving while impaired on July 5, 2014 in Raleigh, N.C. and was required by the league to submit to testing for alcohol under the third stage of the league’s mandated program.
Shortly after the incident in N.C., he was suspended for the 2014 season for testing positive for marijuana. His sentence was later reduced to 10 games as the NFL changed their substance abuse policy and communed the suspensions of Gordon and a few other players. He returned to the field and recorded nine touchdowns in the final six games of the 2014 season.
After the 2014 season concluded, Gordon along with a group of teammates boarded a flight to Las Vegas to unwind. Upon landing in Vegas Gordon was approached to submit a sample as he was still required to do so under the third stage of the NFL’s protocol. Gordon did, and tested positive for alcohol, a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse program.
Gordon was immediately suspended for the 2015 season and was required by the league to stay clean, along with proving to commissioner Goodell, upon his reinstatement hearing, he was able to abstain from any drugs or alcohol during his year-long hiatus from the game. Something Gordon has been unable to do dating back to his college days.
The return of Gordon to the field is big for the Browns and new head coach Hue Jackson. Jackson’s offense thrives with a big-play threat at receiver as we’ve seen with the Bengals and A.J. Green. Because of Gordon’s checkered past, it will be interesting to see what Jackson’s approach is to Gordon once the talented receivers ban is lifted.
Though talented, Gordon is looking at what could be his last real shot at stardom in the NFL. It’s imperative that he capitalizes on the opportunity to prove to the new management and staff that he is truly a changed man off the field and capable of regaining the 2013 form. Gordon’s big play ability made him the team’s most exciting player since its return in 1999 and fans flocked to the player known as ‘Flash.’
Gordon will play 2016 under his rookie contract and will be a restricted free-agent after the season. If Gordon can prove he truly is a changed man and regains his 2013 he could be up for a monstrous pay day and a lengthy career in this league.
Ability has never been a question when it comes to the talented receiver, but the time has come for Gordon to finally prove he has overcome his demons off the field and become the elite play-maker the Browns desperately need.