Press Box Perspective: Suspensions, On Suspensions, On Suspensions

By Seth Rivello

Very rarely will you see a college football player, after only playing two seasons, be compared to the likes of future Hall of Famer Randy Moss or Detroit Lions great Calvin Johnson, but in 2012 a kid from Baylor University caught those comparisons. Josh Gordon was a 6-foot-4, 230-pound athletic specimen that the Cleveland Browns acquired in the second round of the 2012 supplemental draft.

While at Baylor, Gordon was only on the field for two seasons, but practically one. October of 2010 was Gordon’s first college suspension. He and a teammate were found asleep in the Taco Bell drive-thru lane, and marijuana was found in the car.

Then, in July of 2011, which would have been Gordon’s junior year, he was suspended indefinitely for failing a drug test, testing positive for marijuana. In August, he transferred to the University of Utah where he sat out the rest of the year because he declared for the supplemental draft too late.

At Baylor, Gordon totaled 43 receptions, 721 yards and seven touchdowns in two seasons, most of these stats coming in his sophomore 2010 season. Art Briles, who was the coach at the time, helped Gordon cheat the system and pass drug tests. Briles would give him bottles of detox to clean his system.

“That was my first experience with, like, getting over on the system and the authority not really being serious because it was kind of being guided by someone who was employed by the university,” Gordon said about the experience.

Gordon showed a tremendous amount of ability in his first NFL season, racking up 50 catches, 805 yards, and a handful of touchdowns. He didn’t seem like he came out of the supplemental draft or had substance abuse problems as he refrained from making negative headlines that season.

Then, in June of that off-season, Gordon failed a drug test which resulted in a two-game suspension in the 2013 season. Despite only playing in 14 games that season, Gordon led the league in receiving with 1,646 receiving yards and setting a record with two back-to-back 200-yard receiving games. That year he was voted to the Pro-Bowl and as first team All-Pro alongside his former comparison, Calvin Johnson.

After that monumental season it seemed nothing could go right for Gordon. In 2014, he was arrested in the off-season. A one-year suspension was reduced to 10 games, and he was suspended by the Browns in the final game of the season for violating team rules.

In 2015, he faced another year-long suspension after testing positive for alcohol use. Gordon entered a substance abuse program and his suspension was finalized. Then, in early 2016, he was denied reinstatement because of rumors that he failed yet another drug test.

Later in July, he was granted reinstatement but would miss the first four games of the season.

One week away from reinstatement and from Cleveland having their best player back, Gordon dropped a bomb.

“After careful thought and deep consideration I’ve decided that I need to step away from pursuing my return to the Browns and my football career to enter an inpatient rehabilitation facility,” Gordon said. “This is the right decision for me and one that I hope will enable me to gain full control of my life and continue on a path to reach my full potential as a person. I appreciate the support of the NFL, NFLPA, the Browns, my teammates, my agent and the community through this extremely challenging process.”

Gordon also admitted to being on something before every NFL game he’s played in, ranging from alcohol, Xanax, marijuana or codeine.

Currently, Gordon is eligible to return in Week 13 against the Los Angeles Chargers, and Cleveland hopes he’s back to his 2013 form.