Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is getting what’s likely to be his final chance to play in the NFL. Gordon returned to Berea Tuesday after being conditionally reinstated by the league. He’s been suspended over and over again during his pro career for substance abuse issues.
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says the team needs to go slow with his return.
With the exception of his 2012 rookie year, the 26-year-old Gordon has missed some or all of every season of his pro career because of problems with substance abuse.
He was reinstated from a year-long suspension in 2016, which Pluto said at the time was likely his last chance. Then, following training camp, he checked into rehab and was suspended for the rest of 2016 until now.
"Apparently the league is happy with where he is at the moment," Pluto says. "Clearly his tests have been very clean or they wouldn't let him back."
A revealing interview
Days after he was conditionally reinstated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Gordon gave an interview to GQ Magazine that has the Browns -- and Pluto -- nervous.
Gordon said he used drugs or alcohol before every game he's ever played -- college or pro.
"I don't believe it," Pluto says. "Because if he had been drinking a fair amount before a game like he said, people would smell it on him. If he's smoking a lot of dope before a game, people would smell it."
Still, Pluto, who has done jail ministry for 17 years, has a bigger problem with the interview.
"It was almost like he was bragging about being high and still caught 200 yards passing. He talked about beating drug tests. It's a warning sign."
"You have to admit you did these things," Pluto says. "But I didn't hear a lot of, 'I let people down.'"
Pluto also says another recent interview in the documentary, UNINTERRUPTED, revealed that Gordon wasn't upfront about the extent of his addiction.
"Gordon and his people did a great job for several years of telling everyone the league was just picking on him because he was just smoking marijuana. Now he admits...you have to almost name a drug he didn't try -- Xanax, cocaine, codeine."
"I was more positive about Josh and his chances than I was after reading that GQ story. The Browns really need to have the top counselors and top accountability because I think it's even a more serious situation than they thought."
A desperate team
Pluto thinks despite Gordon's many chances, this will likely be his last one.
And, he says as long as Gordon stays clean, he has a good chance to play for the 0-8 Browns who need a wide receiver. "Now we're into need and desperation."
If the team believes he's ready, he can begin practicing on Nov. 20. He's eligible to play on Nov. 27. His first game would be December 3 in Los Angeles against the Chargers.