“The Cleveland Browns continue to dominate headlines in the NFL…” are words that are never said or written. Primarily because the #DawgPound has one playoff appearance in the past two decades. Yet in less than 48 hours, their would-be star receiver Josh Gordon (currently banned for substance abuse), has taken the internet by storm.
On Monday, many believed he was working towards his return to First Energy Stadium. On Tuesday, reports started to surface that he failed his latest drug test. Rumors spread that he could be banned from the NFL for life. On Wednesday, Gordon turned 25, and the latest reports suggest that if he stays clean and makes the necessary steps towards keeping clean, the league could reinstate him as early as August 1.
“Flash” Gordon (though his nickname might be expired by now), could make what was a budding Cinderella story in “Brown Town” — with colorful characters like RGIII and take-no-prisoners Hue Jackson — into something so special it could only happen in Cleveland.
Some fans might argue that the “C” in Cleveland stands for cynicism, and perhaps it should, judging by the teams’ history post-1996. Let’s adjust our cynic spectacles here for a moment and forecast the Browns 2016 season: Josh Gordon gets banned for life. The team uses its second overall draft choice on Goff or Wentz. Neither of them or RGIII pan out. Meanwhile Johnny Manziel tries to enter First Energy Stadium by wearing a moustache and wig, claiming he lives with Von Miller.
All kidding aside, this is literally Josh Gordon’s last chance to be a member of the NFL. More so, his decision to stay clean goes way beyond just him. The ripple effect hits the entire franchise and the fan base of not just Cleveland, but the entire NFL family. Gordon is one of the top receivers in the world, a difference maker that could help the Brows break into the playoffs. As a person he has an opportunity to become a role model, a comeback kid, someone who learned from their issues and overcame them, someone like fellow NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
Marshall was one of the leagues wildest players and dealt with many off-the-field issues. One day he decided to seek help and found out that he suffers from borderline personality disorder. The current New York Jets 1,000-yard receiver made the decision that he was going to do more than just overcome his issues, he became a spokesperson for the illness, a role-model, the superstar receiver he always was meant to be, an analyst for Showtime’s Inside The NFL, a devoted husband, father and so much more. There were many days, weeks, months and years that none of that seemed possible for Marshall, but it was and it is for Josh Gordon if he so chooses. As a member of the Cleveland Browns, Josh Gordon surely knows that 60 miles away from Cleveland is Canton, home of The Pro Football Hall of Fame, a place where a man of his ability belongs if he stays healthy and dedicates himself to the great game of football.
ESPN’s Adam Shefter spoke on Josh Gordon’s current situation.
“The one thing that we’ve seen from Josh Gordon, from the time he’s been in college, to the time he’s been suspended by the NFL, is that nobody can count on him to make the right decisions. Now if he can stay clean, if he can test negative, if he can do all the things that he is supposed to over three and a half more months, then the NFL could review his application and he would have a chance to be reinstated for the 2016 season, but there are also people who believe that with everything he has been through, that there’s a chance he may never play in the league again.”
Josh Gordon can either become a part of the triangle of talent, connecting he and former Baylor Bears teammate Robert Griffin III and newly acquired head coach Hue Jackson, or carry regret for the rest of his life at what could have been.
With Josh Gordon on this team, the Cleveland Browns have the offensive potential to quickly erase the memories of last season’s 3-13 record — not to mention make up for all the Johnny Manziel jerseys that were sold. It’s eerie to think how close Cleveland is to Canton and how far removed Manziel is from his potential. With every appearance on TMZ, it’s becoming appalling clear that Johnny Manziel is more likely to become the example NFL teams use to scare their rookies straight, rather than coming anywhere close to the hallowed grounds of the Hall of Fame.
Hope. Anticipation. Expectation. All good words, but the one that sums up these players and this team is most likely redemption. For now, Josh Gordon sits alone and away from the NFL. With Johnny Manziel on one shoulder and Robert Griffin III on the other. We hope he goes towards the Sunday lights and far away from the Los Angeles nights.
[Photo by: Jim Rogash/Getty Images]