For now, Gordon will remain a member of the Seahawks until further action by the league or until the team parts ways with him. He was claimed off waivers by Seattle last month — after 27 teams with worse records passed on the same opportunity — when the New England Patriots released him from their injured list.
“Our heart goes out to Josh having to face this again,” Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll told reporters Monday. “The fact that he’s up against it and all poses a great challenge to him. Fortunately, he’ll have the benefit of all of the league’s resources to support him and to help him. We’ll wish him the very best in taking care of business. It’s very unfortunate.”
Over five appearances for the Seahawks, Gordon played sparingly, amassing just seven catches for 139 yards, but his only reception Sunday served as a reminder his tantalizing skill set. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound receiver sprinted past two Carolina Panthers defensive backs and then stretched to haul in the football by his fingertips for a 58-yard play.
Gordon showed more frequent glimpses of his talent while with the Patriots, who acquired him from the Browns in September 2018 after Cleveland, which drafted him in 2012, finally decided to move on from someone who had shown so much promise. In his second season, Gordon exploded for a league-leading 1,646 yards, and even that campaign was shortened by suspension to just 14 games.
That first NFL suspension would lead to several more. Including this latest one, he has been suspended six times, including five for some form of substance abuse, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Gordon played in just five games for the Browns in 2014 and then in none at all the following two years before another five-game stint in 2017.
He played just one game for Cleveland in 2018 before being shipped to New England, but a few months later Gordon’s announcement that he was taking a leave from the team was quickly followed by news of yet another suspension.
“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 was conditionally reinstated in August, only to waived by the Patriots on Oct. 31 for unspecified reasons.
“I mean, that’s all in the past,” New England Coach Bill Belichick said at the time, then added, “There have been a lot of guys that have been here in the last year and a half.”
The kind of support that Carroll voiced for Gordon on Monday was important, said Daniel N. Jolivet, who is the behavioral health director for the Standard, a financial products and services firm. A clinical psychologist who has written on mental health and substance use issues in the workplace, Jolivet told The Post by phone that the NFL appears to be doing many things right in that regard, and that employers of all kinds should try to de-stigmatize such matters of personal well-being.
“It is a medical condition,” he said. “People who have addictions tend to have frequent relapses, and it’s a lifelong struggle.”
Hopefully, Jolivet said, Gordon could find a way to beat his addiction.
“And maybe become someone who can serve as not just a cautionary tale but maybe a role model,” he said.
In a 2017 interview with GQ, Gordon said that he began using in the seventh grade as a response to “a lot of childhood and adolescent trauma-based fear.” He said by the time he reached the NFL, he was consuming alcohol or marijuana before games.
Gordon said then that talking openly about his past was helpful for him.
“The more I get it out, the more I feel better about it,” he said. “The more that other people know, the more I feel at ease walking the streets, without this target on my back. Without having to look over my shoulder. It’s therapeutic for me.”
After Gordon announced last year that he was stepping away from the Patriots to focus on his mental health, a psychology professor told the Boston Herald: “Players are more apt to turn to substances than many other people. … They have a lot more pressure and a lot more eyes on them."
That might suggest that Gordon would be best off ending his NFL career, but Jolivet said he thought it was good for people to follow their passions. “
“If anything is going to be a reward or a motivator to address all this for [Gordon], it very likely could be his sports career and his athletic ability,” Jolivet said. “I recognize being a high-profile athlete has unique stresses, and putting people, especially young people, in the spotlight like that has to be incredibly stressful and overwhelming and confusing — at the same time, someone else telling him that he can’t ever go back to that, you don’t necessarily want to take that dream away.”
Carroll told reporters Monday that, having been suspended, Gordon was now “on his own, with the support of the league and his personal support.” The Seahawks can have no contact with the 2013 Pro Bowler during his suspension. The Seahawks are a close-knit team, Carroll said, and Gordon had fit in well.
“Josh has been through this before, unfortunately,” Carroll continued. “I know, just from talking with him the time he was with us, he does understand where the help comes from and the support that’s out there, and he does utilize the resources that the league offers. I just wish him the best and hope he can do well.”