BEREA, Ohio — Josh Gordon released a statement late Thursday saying he has made the decision to enter rehab.
He will not rejoin the Cleveland Browns next week, and the question is whether he will ever rejoin the Browns. At this point, it’s hard to see that happening.
What’s clearly most important is that the rehab helps Gordon. At this point, the person takes precedence over the player.
The NFL allowed Gordon to be with the team during his four-game suspension to start the season, and that was viewed as a positive for him. He was around the team and his teammates, in the environment he loved.
As recently as Sept. 4 — one week before the opener — he posted on Twitter that the Browns’ facility was a “comfort zone.”
After he caught a touchdown pass in a preseason game in Tampa, Gordon said: “This is where I belong, this is where I need to be. This stage was meant for me to play on. That’s what I’m meant to do.”
Clearly, his personal struggles have not allowed him to do that lately. Gordon posted on Twitter about “pressure and stress,” and said he had to do enter rehab for himself. The hope is that the decision proves beneficial.
It’s tough to see the Browns taking him back. They welcomed Gordon back after a yearlong suspension, and stood by him. They said they would provide the most positive environment they could, and Gordon gushed at how welcoming the team was.
Now he surely will not play in 2016.
The Browns watched in 2013 as Gordon set standards for the receiver position not seen in the team’s long history. In 14 games, Gordon led the NFL and set a team record with 1,646 yards receiving. He had games of 237, 261 and 151 yards. And he did it despite being suspended by the NFL for the season’s first two games for substance abuse violations.
But around the time of the 2014 draft, word leaked that the league would suspend Gordon for the entire 2014 season. That was reduced to 10 games, but Gordon was lackluster in the time he played, and then the Browns suspended him for the season finale after he missed a Saturday walk-through.
He followed that with another NFL-mandated suspension, for the entire 2015 season.
He was reinstated for 2016, but not without a four-game suspension to open the season.
Which means that when the Browns play Sunday in Washington, Gordon will have been suspended 31 of the last 36 games, and 33 of the last 49.
The Browns drafted four receivers in April. They gave Terrelle Pryor a full and long look at the position. They welcomed Gordon back, but planned in case they didn’t have him.
They surely will hope for the best for Gordon, but at this point the Browns are trying to build a winning culture with a new group of young players who will grow under the direction of coach Hue Jackson.
Gordon just does not seem to fit in that new model.