Cleveland Browns: The road ahead for Josh Gordon
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon cannot afford to make any mistakes before his Week 5 return against the New England Patriots.
Josh Gordon made it clear during the preseason that he has not lost any talent since his last NFL appearance in 2014.
Gordon did not appear until the third preseason game, when the Cleveland Browns took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he quickly reminded fans why he is considered one of the top talents in the game. He finished with two catches for 87 yards, including a great touchdown grab in his first NFL game of any kind since 2014.
He followed that up with three catches for 29 yards Thursday night against the Chicago Bears, which once again made him the team’s leading receiver.
The early excitement surrounding the receiving corps was focused on Corey Coleman and Terrelle Pryor, but Gordon is by far the best wide receiver on the roster. It is not even a close competition.
The only problem, as we all know, is that Gordon will be serving a four-game suspension to begin the season. It stinks, especially after watching him play so well in his return, but it is great just to know he will be back on the field in 2016. That is, if he can reverse the trend of breaking the rules set out for him.
Gordon has the simple task of not failing a drug test in 2016, which has been a problem for him in the past. Regardless of one’s personal views on marijuana use and whether it should be a punishable offense, NFL players know they must avoid drug use, and Gordon failed to do so.
His reinstatement is on a conditional basis, so Gordon is likely one failed drug test away from being suspended indefinitely. Without knowing anything about his personal life, he is saying the right things in front of the media. He seems excited to be back on a football field and aware of how great he can be if he can stay clean.
There are those who wanted the Browns to cut Gordon when he was originally denied reinstatement earlier this year, but that would have been a major mistake. Gordon at least seems like a genuine person who was the victim of bad decision-making, which has been a problem with him since his college days.
Failing a drug test caused harm to no one but himself, and compared to the horrific crimes committed by some NFL players who continue to play in the league, Gordon’s crimes are minor at best.
And this is professional football. Releasing Gordon would have meant he would have quickly been picked up by another team, only to continue his dominance, given he can stay clean.
Next: Browns release Charles Gaines
Having him on the inactive roster caused no harm, so it is great the new front office kept him and gave him a chance to prove he can be the great, reliable player he once was. Browns fans just have to wait and see if Gordon deserves trust, or if he has fooled us all.