On the heels of reports of an indefinite league suspension, New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon announced on Thursday that he will be taking a leave of absence from professional football as he deals with his ongoing mental health issues.
In a statement quoted on the NFL website, Gordon explained the reasons behind his decision to put his football career on hold and stressed that he “takes [his] mental health very seriously” in an effort to make sure he performs at the highest possible level on the field. While he did not go into detail about the circumstances of his situation, the 27-year-old wide receiver added that he had recently felt the need to “have a better grasp on things mentally.”
“With that said, I will be stepping away from the football field for a bit to focus on my mental health,” Gordon continued.
“I would like to thank Coach [Bill] Belichick, [Patriots owner Robert] Kraft, as well as countless others with the Patriots organization for their continued support. I want to thank my fans for their support as well as I continue down the path to getting back to 100 percent.”
The Patriots issued a separate statement acknowledging Gordon’s decision to go on hiatus and his desire for the matter to be kept “private and personal.”
As further noted, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported earlier on Thursday that Josh Gordon is facing an indefinite suspension for violating the terms of his reinstatement into the NFL. Gordon previously missed two full seasons due to a similar suspension for substance abuse issues and, as a result, only saw action in a total of 10 games between the 2014 and 2017 seasons. Prior to that, Gordon was named to the league’s All-Pro team after tallying 1,646 receiving yards and scoring nine touchdowns for the Cleveland Browns in the 2013 NFL season, per Pro Football Reference.
Josh Gordon 'Stepping Away' from Patriots, Focusing on Mental Health https://t.co/Vfs7KboDZy— TMZ (@TMZ) December 20, 2018
After playing one game with the Browns in the 2018 season, Gordon was traded to the New England Patriots for a future fifth-round draft pick and had a productive run with his new team, as he recorded 40 receptions, 720 receiving yards, and three touchdowns in 11 games before the news of his possible indefinite suspension broke.
While both TMZ and the NFL website noted that it’s unclear how Josh Gordon violated the terms of his reinstatement, the latter publication speculated that the wide receiver might have a “long road back” to the league if he does get banned for a second time. Although New England’s receiving corps still benefits from the presence of Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Phillip Dorsett, the NFL website’s Kevin Patra opined that Gordon’s loss could be a “massive blow” for the Patriots as they hope to make another playoff appearance come January.