There's been a lot of speculation over the last month from media, fans, and former NFL players regarding Josh Gordon's apparent substance abuse issues and off-the-field decision making. And while Browns fans hold their collective breath regarding the length of the suspension the NFL will give Gordon, we learned yesterday from Coach Mike Pettine that the Browns do not plan to cut him - in fact they plan to help him.
"I think we need to find the middle ground of what's best for Josh and what's best for the organization. I know Cris Carter came out and said that, but we think you can find that middle ground of what's best for our players and best for the organization. It worked for Cris, but cutting Josh might be the worst thing for him and the worst thing for us.''
Gordon's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has shared that he plans to talk to the Browns before the hearing about how they can work together to best help Josh. Pettine also confirmed that the team has reached out to substance abuse professionals about how to best help Gordon. We also learned yesterday that the team expects the NFL's hearing to be held within 10 days, and that Pettine expects an appeal to follow.
"We're expecting Josh to report on Friday and be on the field,'' Pettine said. "We have no plans to cut him. I know there's been a lot of debate over that, but I don't see us having that debate.''
"If not this week, the following. We’re expecting the next 10 days, maybe as far as two weeks. But there will be the original hearing and then the appeal."
"If any of our players are in need of help, we'll do our best to provide it for them and also that we're going to do what we feel is best for the organization,'' he said. "By league guidelines, whatever help we can provide him, we're going to do it. A Cleveland Brown is a Cleveland Brown. If we feel we can help him, let's help him. Sometimes you're handcuffed by the situation, so until it plays out then there's really nothing tangible we can do at this point.''
Josh Gordon is among the most talented and exciting young receivers in the NFL, but until he acknowledges that his patterns of behavior and off-the-field decisions are putting his career and himself in jeopardy, then chances are he's not going to change - even with all the help being extended to him from the Browns and his agent.
Earlier this month I was told that some inside Berea (at that time) felt a lot better about Josh's potential suspension situation vs. how they felt during the month prior. It was explained that the decision was becoming more of a bigger picture situation for the NFLPA. My assumption from that - which could be wrong - was that perhaps Josh had a legitimate reason as to why he missed his window to submit a drug test and that the NFLPA was working to use Gordon's situation as the example for why they need to fix certain aspects of the policy.
But given Gordon's July 4th arrest for drunken driving and a traffic violation at the end to May where somebody in his car was in possession of hefty amount of marijuana when Josh was pulled over for speeding, I have since grown very wary about how the NFL will choose to come down on Josh. As it stands, Gordon could be suspended for the entire 2014 season and then be required to ask Commissioner Goodell to be re-instated for 2015. However, both of these aforementioned infractions, for a player already in stage 3 of the NFL Substance Abuse protocol, are most likely not helping his cause with the NFL. That being said, the Browns remain firm in their support of one of their own.
"Anytime there are multiple things going on and there's a pattern, it's a concern, but at the same time, you need to allow that to play out. You don't want to have a knee-jerk reaction. You've got to cool down a little bit and look at each thing individually. I think we've just settled into a very patient mode of waiting and our plans are laid out and we're just waiting to hear from the league.''
So are we Mike, so are we. But the bottom line is that Josh's situation is about more than football. Josh needs a lot of help and I hope he realizes and accepts what's at stake for his own well being.