Can Josh Gordon avoid joining the Cleveland Browns one-year wonder list?
By Thomas Moore
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon may be facing his last chance to prove he is more than the team’s latest one-year wonder.
The Cleveland Browns have delivered more than their share of disappointment to fans since returning to the NFL in 1999.
Those dark Sunday afternoons have been briefly interspersed with the occasional highlight, which unfortunately have not lasted for very long.
That is why it is not surprising to see three Browns players on For the Win‘s list of the 10 biggest one-year wonders in the NFL history. While it can be argued that Peyton Hillis probably does not deserve a spot, the list is another reminder of just how bad things have been in Browns Town.
The start of training camp offers quarterback Robert Griffin III, currently sitting at No. 4, a chance to remove his name from the list. It also may represent the final chance for wide receiver Josh Gordon to ensure that he will not take up permanent residence at the top of any future one-year wonder lists.
“I think if a player wants to change, you have to create an environment for him to change.” – Head coach Hue Jackson
Gordon’s return to the field has been delayed a few more weeks due to a quad injury, and he won’t actually appear in a game that matters until Oct. 9, but for the first time since the end of the 2014 season he is once again officially a member of the Browns.
And he says his time away from the game has changed him.
“I definitely think I’m a different person, if you haven’t changed over a period of time it’s definitely a bad thing. I think me standing here is a testament to that, and most of you might not see it that way,” Gordon said on Thursday. “It just comes with the territory with me being who I am, considering my past, but I’m just looking toward the future and hopefully people can see that through what I do here and the community as well.”
While they wait to see what Gordon still has left in him, the Browns front office and coaching staff are working to create a structure for Gordon to succeed.
“I think it all starts in the locker room. I think if a player wants to change, you have to create an environment for him to change,” according to head coach Hue Jackson. “We’re going to make sure we have the right structure in place for him and then I think it works over in the locker room like I said with our veteran players, the guys that have been here with him before who understand maybe some of the shortcomings that he’s had in the past and that we can help manage him through those.”
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Gordon’s All-Pro season in 2013 represents 54 percent of his career receptions, 60 percent of his career receiving yards and 64 percent of his career touchdowns, making him a prime candidate for a one-year wonder list if he can’t turn his career around.
Everything looks to be in place for that to occur this fall with the Browns, as he has a coaching staff in his corner, along with an offense that will not need to rely on him to be the lone playmaker. The quarterback situation is still unsettled, but the Browns are in a better place now than they were the last three times they welcomed Gordon back from a suspension. (Let that thought think in for a moment, Browns fans.)
“I have a great support staff here, more so than I’ve ever felt before,” Gordon said on Thursday. “And it plays a part on both sides. Me wanting to give into that support and allow them to help me and me wanting to be helped as opposed to before me trying to be selfish and do things on my own.
“I want to buy into an organization, a loving, caring, providing facility. And people here that want to do the most that they can, to do everything that they can to help us. Which they were trying to tell us today.
“That’s what I want to be a part of.”
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Gordon said all the right things on Thursday in his latest return to the Browns.
The hard part now is proving that he has truly changed.