Goodell announced Monday that Gordon may join the team at training camp and participate in meetings, conditioning work and other similar activities. After the league confirms that Gordon’s “clinical resources” are in place in Cleveland, he will be allowed to take part in all preseason activities, including games. Gordon then will be suspended for the first four regular season games and can return to the team Oct. 3.
“As we discussed at our [July 19] meeting, as Commissioner, I want nothing more than to see you turn your circumstances around and succeed,” Goodell wrote to Gordon, according to a release by the league. “Countless others including your agent, teammates and coaches, [owner] Mr. [Jimmy] Haslam and the leadership of the organization, the Program professionals and [Browns Hall of Famer] Jim Brown also have pledged to provide you with every resource at their disposal. But as you acknowledged, ultimately, your future is your responsibility. I have every belief that you can make the right choices, but it will be up to you to do so.”
If all goes according to plan, Gordon’s first game back will be on Oct. 9, when the Browns will play the New England Patriots, with quarterback Tom Brady similarly playing in his first game after his four-game, Deflategate suspension.
Despite being suspended two games for his first violation of the drug policy, Gordon led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards in 2013, his last nearly complete season in the league. He missed all but five games of the 2014 season because he was suspended for a second time (for 10 games plus a one-game suspension handed down by the Browns for violating team rules).
“I’ve talked with Josh twice on the phone, and the last time I talked with him he sounded very motivated and I think he was in rehab and feeling good about it and discovering some things about himself,” said Brown, a Cleveland team adviser. “He really seemed ready to take responsibility for himself.”