“We are all rooting for Josh to succeed, both personally and professionally,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “Everyone shares in that hope and will continue to support him to every extent possible. But as Josh acknowledged, ultimately his success is up to him.”
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick on Saturday released a statement through the team regarding Gordon’s reinstatement.
Gordon was suspended in late December for violating the terms of his previous conditional reinstatement under the sport’s substance abuse policy. It was the fifth suspension of his career. He left the Patriots to focus on his health and was not involved in their run to a sixth Super Bowl title.
“I take my mental health very seriously at this point to ensure I remain able to perform at the highest level,” Gordon tweeted at the time. “I have recently felt like I could 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, 28, played in 11 games for New England in 2018, catching 40 passes for 720 yards and three touchdowns. If he’s able to stay on the field, he could be a crucial part of the team’s offense, especially after prolific tight end Rob Gronkowski retired, leaving quarterback Tom Brady without many reliable targets.
But Gordon has never played a complete season, as wide-ranging issues have gotten the best of him.
In 2017, Gordon revealed the extent of his substance abuse.
“I’ve used alcohol on many, many occasions, Xanax on many occasions, cocaine several occasions, marijuana most of my life, codeine, cough syrup, [promethazine] is very prevalent where I’m from,” Gordon said in a short documentary on Uninterrupted. “It’s what I grew up using.”
Despite his red flags as an amateur athlete, his talent was too much to pass up for the Cleveland Browns, who drafted him as a second-round supplemental pick in 2012.
He made in impact in his rookie season, catching 50 passes for 805 yards but unfortunately, his demons stayed with him.
He was suspended for the first two games of the 2013 season after a failed drug test for codeine, which he attributed to being in cough syrup that was prescribed to him by a doctor. The suspension and distractions didn’t stop him from having a breakout season: In just 14 games, Gordon led the NFL with 1,646 yards.
In July 2014, he was arrested on a DUI charge. The next month he was suspended for one year after another failed drug test. He appealed, stating the positive test was caused by secondhand smoke. The suspension was reduced to 10 games.
Gordon was suspended for the entire 2015 season for again violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He was reinstated before the 2016 season but was suspended for the first four games. He chose to enter rehab and did not play a game. The league reinstated him again in November 2017. He played five games that season, logging 335 yards with one touchdown.
After one game with Cleveland last season, the Browns traded Gordon a conditional 2019 seventh-round draft pick to the Patriots for a 2019 fifth-round draft pick.
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick didn’t offer much clarity about Gordon when asked about him earlier this month.
“We don’t have anything to do with Josh Gordon," Belichick said. “He’s suspended. You need to talk to the league. We have no control over Josh Gordon.”
Brady worked out with Gordon during the offseason.
“There weren’t many opportunities, but he was around and I needed someone to catch,” Brady said in July. “I’ve always enjoyed playing with him and obviously hope everything works out for him. I’m hoping the best, certainly.”
Patriots first-round pick N’Keal Harry, another wide receiver, was assigned Gordon’s No. 10 but switched to No. 8, at least for the preseason, in a move that could be interpreted as a gesture to welcome back Gordon.