As first reported by ESPN, Cleveland Browns suspended wideout Josh Gordon applied to the league for reinstatement on Tuesday after receiving a one-year ban from the league for multiple violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, including a failed alcohol test in 2014 while already under suspension.
Gordon’s one-year ban expires in February and according to NFL rules, Gordon is allowed to apply for reinstatement 60 days prior to his suspension ending. The NFL rule also states that in order to be reinstated, Gordon must have demonstrated “clear and total abstinence” during his suspension. The former second-round pick out of Utah in 2012 will have to meet with commissioner Roger Goodell as well as the league’s medical director and medical adviser, who will make a recommendation to the commissioner on Gordon’s reinstatement.
Gordon was voted to the 2013 Pro Bowl after amassing 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns in 14 games played during the 2012 season. However, since that career year in 2012 and even before that, Gordon has simply been unable to stay out of trouble:
* October 2010:
While at Baylor University, Gordon and teammate Willie Jefferson were found asleep in a Taco Bell parking lot by Waco Police. Both were arrested for marijuana possession after police found a small bag inside the vehicle. Jefferson was dismissed from the team while Gordon was suspended.
* July 2011:
Gordon transfers from Baylor to the University of Utah after a failed drug test resulting in an “indefinite suspension.”
* June 2013:
Gordon received a two-game suspension from the NFL for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
* July 2014:
After his first second with the Cleveland Browns, Gordon was arrested in Raleigh, North Carolina on a DUI Charge. He was originally suspended for the entire 2014 season, but it was reduced to ten games due to the league’s new substance-abuse policy. Gordon played in just five games in the 2014 season.
* December 2014:
Gordon was suspended for the Browns final regular season game due to a “violation of team rules.”
* February 2015:
After a failed alcohol test, Gordon was suspended for the entire 2015 season.
The NFL has turned into a league that is known for giving second chances (Michael Vick, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, etc). Josh Gordon’s off-the-field issues were more personal than the issues surrounding Hardy, Peterson, or Vick as Gordon’s actions did not result in violence or injury towards others. If the league is going to give players such as Vick or Hardy another chance at playing football, they should absolutely give Gordon another shot. Obviously, the league feels that Gordon’s actions reflect negatively upon himself, the Cleveland Browns, and the rest of the NFL, so a harsh act of discipline was needed. In a time where the NFL is focused on cleaning up its image (concussion issue, domestic violence, drug policy) it is easy to understand why Goodell and the league came down so hard on Josh Gordon, as he was a repeat offender on an issue they were trying to eliminate.
Gordon was not necessarily made an example out of, as his issues with drugs and alcohol had surfaced long before he was in the NFL. It was inevitable that Gordon was going to get into some sort of trouble with the lifestyle he was living. After sitting out more than half of the 2014 season and all of the 2015 season, it is absolutely time for this kid to get another shot. People make mistakes and people sometimes have issues coping with alcohol and drugs. If Gordon can prove to Goodell and the rest of the NFL that he has changed, he deserves another shot. If he screws up again then he obviously deserves to be disciplined, but until that happens he should be allowed to come back to football. If Gordon were reinstated, he would be under contract for $1.1 million with the Browns in 2016. With the new head coaching change in Hue Jackson, the quarterback controversy surrounding Johnny Manziel, and the overall dismal play of the Browns over the last 16 years, Cleveland should be doing everything in their power to help get a Pro-Bowl receiver like Josh Gordon back on their team and help keep him out of trouble.
Information from Pro-Football-Reference was used in this report.