Josh Gordon takes next step, will start on Sunday

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns activated wide receiver Josh Gordon on Thursday. What comes next remains the great unknown, however.

The Cleveland Browns made it official late Thursday afternoon.

Wide receiver Josh Gordon is once again a member of the active roster and will be in the starting lineup for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The team announced the move on its website.

It is just the latest step in what has been an amazing journey for Gordon, who last appeared in a regular season game on Dec. 21, 2014 – almost three years ago.

Since that day in Charlotte, Gordon has undergone repeated suspensions for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, numerous “imminent” returns to the Browns, a conditional reinstatement in 2016 that was derailed by a return to a rehab facility, and more stories about what might have been or could be than any player in franchise history.

The saga has also included stories in recent weeks about a lengthy battle with drugs and alcohol and playing games while under the influence.

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The next chapter will start shortly after 4 p.m. on Sunday at the StubHub Center, the temporary home of the Chargers, in what should be the most-watched game of the season for the Browns.

While Sunday’s game has now become must-see TV, it is what happens in the days and weeks that follow that will be just as important. Gordon has never had a problem during those three to four hours on Sunday afternoons, it is the rest of the week that has proven difficult to navigate.

It would seem that being around the structure of an NFL team would be good for Gordon, but there are still potential pitfalls within the confines of the locker room, according to left tackle Joe Thomas.

Thomas appeared on Cleveland radio station 92.3 The Fan and laid out the reality of life in the NFL, according to Mary Kay Cabot at

"“You take that player that has this big history of addiction and you put him in a locker room with a bunch of 20-year-olds and early 30-year-olds, let’s be honest, pro football players like to party, they like to go out and drink and that’s powerful and it’s difficult and it’s going to take a lot of self-control and discipline on Josh’s part to not slide back into that lifestyle. I mean, they’re going to be testing him every single week for everything and one more slip-up and it might be over, so it’s going to be tough for him because he wants to be able to relate to those players … become one of the guys but he’s got to be careful not to ever cross that line.”"

Gordon has made it this far, and despite that has gone on since he joined the Browns in 2012, has done everything asked of him and earned yet another chance at an NFL career.

The next step comes Sunday against the Chargers, but that is just another part of Gordon’s much-longer journey.

Next: Browns: Defensive takeaways from loss to the Bengals

How he traverses that path once the final whistle blows each week remains to be seen.