We have all heard the various news stories about former Browns QB Johnny Manziel and his partying habits that ruined his NFL career for the time being. Manziel is actually making an NFL comeback which I will definitely be writing about in the future. But, there is a different Browns player that has a similar story and could definitely make more of an impact than Johnny Football on a team.
Josh Gordon is a 25 year old wide receiver from Houston, Texas. The Baylor product has not had the smoothest NFL career. When he was at Baylor he was suspended by Art Briles for testing positive for marijuana. He then transferred to the University of Utah, but sat out the entire year and declared for the 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft in which he was selected by the Cleveland Browns. As a rookie, Gordon was a top first year receiver finishing with 50 catches for 805 yards and 5 touchdowns. His next year, though, was his best and one of the best receiving years the NFL has ever seen. Gordon was suspended the first two games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, but he came out firing after his suspension was up. He finished his sophomore year in the league with 87 catches for 1,646 yards (a Cleveland Browns record) and 9 touchdowns. In a two game span, he racked up 498 receiving yards (237 yds on 11/24 and 261 yds on 12/1). This marked the first time anyone in the league’s history has recorded two back-to-back 200-yd games. He also set an NFL record for most receiving yards in a two, three, and four game span. These numbers are unbelievable for two main reasons:
1) Gordon was suspended the first two games of the regular season. This means that every other receiver in the league had a two game head start and Gordon still managed to lead the league in receiving yards, make his first Pro Bowl, and be selected to First Team All-Pro.
2) Look at the quarterbacks throwing to Gordon that year. Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, and Brian Hoyer were the three QBs used that year (because when was the last time the Browns stuck to one QB in a season?). I don’t even have to bring up the stats to know that not only was this year the most efficient year of each of their careers (except maybe Hoyer), but also that they really didn’t do anything else in their careers. Gordon made them better QBs (or at least made them look better).
Guess how many receiving yards Gordon has had in his career since this season.
He has tallied 303 yards and 0 touchdowns…all in the season following his breakout year. Why is that? Well, the next season Gordon was arrested for DWI and was suspended for 10 games. He only played in five due to a violation of team rules and recorded the stats mentioned earlier. The next season (2015), Gordon was suspended for the entire season due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy again. The following season, Gordon applied for reinstatement into the NFL, but was denied in March 2016 because he failed another drug test. In July 2016, he was reinstated by the league and was cleared to participate in training camp, but was suspended for the first four games of the season. In September 2016, though, one week away from being officially reinstated by the NFL, Gordon entered rehab for alcohol and would not play a single game in that season.
It will now be four seasons since Josh Gordon amazed us with his play, but every year he seems to amaze us with his off-field problems. He has since been released from that rehab facility and has applied for reinstatement once again. I hope that he received the help that he needed and that he is actually ready to come back. He will hear in the coming months whether his reinstatement will be granted or not, but the Browns are still deciding whether or not they will keep him on the team if he does gain access back to the league. His future still remains to be seen, but I for one would love to see him back dominating on the field. Recent instagram posts by him seem encouraging as he seems to be training for a comeback much like his friend and former teammate and partygoer Johnny Manziel. All I can say for sure is that the Browns organization has not had great luck with star players lately.