In this Sept. 1, 2016, file photo, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon catches a pass before an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Cleveland. Gordon said in a statement Thursday, Sept 29, 2016, that he’s entering a rehab facility to “gain full control of my life.” (AP Photo/David Richard, File)

In this Sept. 1, 2016, file photo, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon catches a pass before an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears in Cleveland. Gordon said in a statement Thursday, Sept 29, 2016, that he’s entering a rehab facility to “gain full control of my life.” (AP Photo/David Richard, File)

The excitement around the return of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon from a four-game suspension to start the season might not have been widespread, but it was definitely on the minds of NFL pundits.


AFRO Sports Desk Faceoff


Gordon exploded on the scene in 2013 when he recorded 87 catches for 1,646 yards while scoring nine touchdowns in only 14 games. Since that Pro Bowl season, he’s lost his playing time to drug suspension after drug suspension, and hasn’t played in a game since December 2014. He was suspended for two games to open the 2013 season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. He was arrested the following summer for driving while impaired, and as a result earned a 10-game suspension in 2014.  He was then suspended the entire 2015 season for again violating the league’s drug policy. That suspension extended into the first four games of this season, before he made a public statement on Sept. 29 that he was entering himself into an in-patient rehabilitation facility, again placing his NFL career on hold. 

The announcement may not come as a total surprise to those who have followed Gordon’s talented but troubled career. But it again removed one of the league’s most talented players from the field over substance abuse issues. Will Gordon ever suit up in the NFL again? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate.

Riley: Players with Gordon’s ability typically don’t run out of chances, due to their talent. I’ll side with Gordon’s ability giving him another shot somewhere down the road. Who knows how long Gordon will be in rehab. In his first NFL game against the New York Giants in 2013, Gordon went for two catches, 82 yards and two touchdowns. His talent is unquestioned. Gordon’s potential return this season would have been an audition for another job somewhere else, considering how many chances he squandered with the Browns. His NFL career has been derailed by drug use and poor decisions, and he’s taking time to work out those problems. But there are still some NFL teams awaiting the return of the player who looked like a Hall of Famer in the making back in 2014.

Green: The Cleveland Browns might be the only team in the league who wouldn’t sign Gordon if he decided to return next year. It almost seems like the NFL wants Gordon on the field, considering how many opportunities the league has given him since he was drafted in 2013. Gordon has had character problems since his college days, when he was kicked off the Baylor football team for testing positive for marijuana in 2012; he was forced to enter the supplemental draft the following year. A tumultuous NFL career came to a climax last week when a DNA test revealed that he was the father of a one-year old daughter, the same day he announced his admission into rehab. Gordon will always have a place in the league, but he might not be mentally stable enough to handle such an opportunity. We’ve seen the last of Gordon.

Riley: Everybody deals with life’s challenges differently. His performance on the field has earned Gordon a lot of sympathy and a lot of fans. Those two factors should be enough to surround Gordon with a support circle strong enough to get him back in the NFL. He still has the talent to try football again. Since it appears that Gordon can enter and exit the NFL as he desires, the league will be there whenever Gordon wants to return. How soon that will be is the better question.

Green: Teams are placing such an emphasis on character that even Gordon’s talent might not be enough to get him back with another club. Cleveland was taken for a roller coaster ride dealing with Gordon, as was Baylor. Gordon has burned bridges with teams in the past and organizations will definitely be looking at that when considering whether to sign Gordon. The NFL has seen talented players come and go before, and it isn’t like the league is desperate for a superstar. With a heavy emphasis being placed on substance abuse and behavior around the NFL, Gordon’s name will be a controversial one if it’s ever brought up in a front office. Gordon’s size, speed and ability are all off the charts, but his own demons have likely cost him the chance of a lifetime.

http://afro.com/will-josh-gordon-ever-return-to-the-nfl/

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