There is no denying that when the Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver Josh Gordon is on an NFL field he is a tremendous player. The problem is Gordon has not played in an NFL game since Dec. 21, 2014 because of several suspensions for marijuana use and drunk driving. Week five was supposed to mark the return of Gordon to the NFL, after 659 days away from the field, but on Sept. 29, Gordon announced that he would enter an inpatient rehab facility, further delaying his return to the Browns.
Since being taken in the 2012 supplement draft by the Browns, Gordon has played in 35 of a possible 68 games through the first four weeks of the 2016 season. In the games he has played in Gordon has caught 161 passes for 2754 yards and 14 touchdowns. In the 2013 season, Gordon led the league in receiving yards, despite missing the first two games due to suspension.
Suspensions have followed Gordon throughout his football career. While playing college football at Baylor, Gordon was found by local Waco, Texas police officers passed out with his teammate in a Taco Bell drive through. Marijuana was found in the car, and Gordon received his suspension in October 2010. In July 2011, Gordon failed a drug test for marijuana and was kicked off the Baylor team.
Gordon declared for the supplement draft and the Browns gave up a second round pick to select him, despite his off the field troubles. For almost two years, Gordon looked to have put his issues behind him, but he would fail another drug test in June 2013. The NFL suspended him the first two games of the season. When Gordon returned to the field that season he was the best receiver in the NFL.
Despite the Browns’ struggles on the field since they returned to the NFL in 1999, Gordon had given the entire fan base some reason to be optimistic, but that optimism would be crushed following a disastrous offseason by Gordon. In July 2014, he would be arrested for a DUI in Raleigh, seven weeks later Gordon was initially suspended for the entire season. Upon appeal, Gordon had his suspension reduced to ten games. Gordon returned from his suspension to play five games for the Browns, before the team suspended him for what they called a violation of team rules.
In the weeks following the Browns’ decision to suspend Gordon, he failed another test. On Feb. 3 2015, Gordon was officially suspended for the entire 2015 season for failing a test for alcohol use. Due to his previous failed tests, and DUI, Gordon was subjected to suspension if he tested positive for alcohol as part of his agreement with the NFL substance abuse program.
After a year away from football, Gordon applied for reinstatement only to have his application rejected after failing yet another test in March 2016. Since his first acknowledged failed test at Baylor in July 2011, Gordon has failed at least five other drug tests. In July, Gordon was officially reinstated, but suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season.
Oct. 9 was when Gordon was set to return to the field, when the Browns will play the New England Patriots and their returning quarterback Tom Brady. It would have been 659 days since Gordon last played a NFL game, but with Gordon’s decision to enter rehab, the days will continue to go on, and fans of the Browns will wonder if they will ever get to see the electric receiver they had seen in 2013. Time will tell if Gordon ever returns to the NFL, and if he can play at the same levels he reached in his 35 games with the Browns.