BEREA, Ohio — Josh Gordon said he returns to the Cleveland Browns a different man, one more willing and ready to accept help and support from others. Those were Gordon’s words Thursday in his first public comments since he was reinstated by the NFL from a one-year ban.
Gordon did not apologize for missing the 2015 season due to multiple violations of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, but he did say he was “tremendously excited” to be given another chance and “grateful” the Browns took him back.
“I definitely think I’m a different person,” he said. “If you haven’t changed over a period of time, that’s a bad thing. I think me standing here is a testament to that. Most people might not see it that way. That just comes with the territory of me being who I am, considering my past.”
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Gordon said he had taken the necessary steps “to better myself as a person off the field just as much as on.” He did not answer when asked if he went to rehab, but promised he is much more willing to accept help.
“I have a great support staff here, more so than I’ve ever felt before,” Gordon said. “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.”
Gordon met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on July 21 as part of his attempt to be reinstated.
“He was willing to hear me out on all points, and I was grateful for the opportunity,” Gordon said. “I think I got off my chest things I was desperately trying to convey. I think he understood that.”
Gordon admitted he was self-centered when he played for the Browns in the past.
“But things turn around,” he said. “People change. It’s possible to change. It takes people some learning. But eventually you get to that point. I think I have.”
Gordon was suspended two games in the 2013 season (when he still led the league in receiving yards), 11 games in 2014 (one by the team) and all 16 in 2015.
He also will be suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season.
He arrives with a quad injury but is ready to return to practice.
Sashi Brown, the team’s executive vice president, said the receiver is “at his core a good person,” and coach Hue Jackson said what “captured (him) was Josh Gordon as a person.”
“There’s nothing we’re going to be able to do to force Josh to change,” Brown said. “The change is going to be within, and we will support him through that.”
Gordon said nothing he could do at a podium would prove he’s different. He simply has to do it in the community and with the team, on and off the field. His locker has been placed next to that of quarterback Robert Griffin III in the team’s newly renovated locker room.
“He’s the reason why I committed to Baylor in 2009,” Gordon said. “That’s one of my best friends. It’s not a mistake that my locker is next to his. He looks out for me as part of my support staff I’ve been mentioning. Guys I know I can lean on. I know he’s a big brother in that regard.”
Gordon also praised Hall of Fame running back and Browns special adviser Jim Brown for his help in the past months. The receiver said several other NFL players had reached out to him — though he did not specify whom. He called his year off “humbling.”
“But the point has definitely got across to me, clear as day,” Gordon said. “That’s not a place you want to go back to or ever get to.”