Cleveland Browns star wide receiver Josh Gordon may have a chance to suit up in 2016.
Past reports regarding more failed drug tests suggested Gordon could be looking at yet another ban, but a reported meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sparked new optimism that Gordon could play against this season.
Sources: Commissioner Roger Goodell met with #Browns WR Josh Gordon yesterday regarding his return to football. Gordon can reapply on Aug. 1
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 21, 2016
Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapopport, Gordon and Goodell met on Wednesday to discuss the troubled receiver’s future. The meeting didn’t include a decision either way from Goodell, while reports suggest Gordon should be able to reapply for reinstatement on August 1st.
The future still remains murky for Josh Gordon, as the league doesn’t always reinstate players despite their attempts to reapply, while Gordon’s multiple failed drug tests will naturally be taken into consideration when the league considers Gordon’s future.
Gordon burst onto the seen as a rookie in 2012 and then stepped up his game and looked like an elite weapon during a massive 2013 campaign. Although Gordon’s star was rising steadily, his career hit a wall when he was suspended two games for substance abuse in 2013 and then another 10 games for the 2014 season. Gordon’s career took a dark turn for the worse again in 2015, when more negative drug tests resulted in a year-long ban.
Gordon looked to be set to return for the 2016 season, but reportedly yet again failed league mandated drug tests and now faces the possibility of further suspension. Gordon’s meeting with the commissioner figures to be a step towards possible reinstatement, but no such action by the league is imminent.
So Much Talent
The story of Josh Gordon is especially troubling, both because of the frequency of his trip-ups with the league, as well as his top shelf talent that is being wasted. Gordon went into the 2012 Supplemental Draft largely due to character concerns, and he didn’t waste much time before making the Browns regret acquiring him.
Most of Gordon’s off the field issues have come following his enormous success, which began during his rookie season, when he caught 50 balls for over 800 yards and five scores. Gordon’s big play ability made him the focal point of the team’s offense the following season, where he would amass 1,646 receiving yards and nine touchdowns off of 87 catches – all in just 14 games.
Gordon’s suspensions began to take a toll on his development, however, as he didn’t appear to be the same player upon returning from a 10-game ban in 2014, when he posted a weak 24-303-0 stat line.
Odds of Reinstatement
The biggest thing working against Josh Gordon is his failed drug tests after spending an entire season away from football. That may show that he has not been taking the proper precautions in living drug free life. For the league, Gordon’s constant infractions suggest he’s not taking his professional football career seriously and there has to be worry that he may never appreciate what is at risk.
Gordon isn’t out with recourse, here, as the diluted sample that put off his reinstatement could still be discarded, should the league decide to give him a break. Gordon’s sit-down with Goodell could easily allow for that to happen, depending on whether or not Gordon can convince the league commissioner that he’s serious about staying clean and working his way back into the league.
From there, Gordon will likely apply for reinstatement and still potentially could find his way back into the league this year. That being said, applying for reinstatement and conversing with Goodell individually and together don’t mean anything. A discussion with Goodell could lead to nothing and Gordon’s application to be reinstated could still very well be denied. And should Gordon’s recent failed drug tests or any future failed drug tests be used against him, Gordon may not be looking at 2016 as his main roadblock; he could be looking at a completely derailed NFL career.
Key thing to understand re: Josh Gordon is that the NFL is under no obligation to reinstate him at all. He is… https://t.co/jlwqph0CAV
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) July 21, 2016
Two harsh realities exist. Not only could Gordon’s own team decide not to activate him (they could also trade him, if reinstated), but the league itself could opt not to believe, trust or hand out another chance to a player who has routinely broken their rules. That has already been the case with the likes of Justin Blackmon and Daryl Washington, while other players such as Ray Rice have seemingly been blackballed by the league for their actions away from the field.
Josh Gordon Prediction
The NFL has been making a name for itself when it comes to making an example of players that break rules. Players that abuse drugs, use steroids or banned substances or commit acts of violence do not usually get the benefit of the doubt – even when they’re not actually convicted of a crime in the court of law.
Johnny Manziel, who hasn’t been convicted of anyhing yet, was suspended four games this year for drug issues. Numerous players have received bans for substance and drug abuse issues this summer already, as well. Due to his lengthy history of failed drug tests and existing suspensions, a 2016 reinstatement still feels like a reach.
For Josh Gordon to be reinstated immediately, the league would have to throw out any of his recent failed drug tests, trust blindly that Gordon is reformed and won’t relapse and in a sense also forget any of his past infractions.
This is all assuming Gordon is close to being allowed back in the league. Even if Goodell throws out the drug tests and does randomly give Gordon another chance, there is the huge elephant in the room: what are the odds Josh Gordon makes good with what would surely be his last chance in the league?
The simple reality is players do not come back from year-long suspensions very often and they surely don’t come back after another suspension after the fact. One way or another, Josh Gordon is on his last legs in the NFL. Whether or not he gets reinstated in August shouldn’t be the concern. The concern is whether or not his next reinstatement will last more than a month. Considering his history, Gordon will have to prove Goodell, the league, the Browns and everyone else that he’s a changed man and that he can be trusted. Judging by things have gone so far, it’s tough to buy it working out.