There’s a reason I refused to get as elated as most Cleveland Browns fans upon hearing troubled wideout Josh Gordon was reinstated in the NFL two weeks ago. While many saw this news as a huge break for the still-winless team, I held my doubts.
Reason being, there was just too much Gordon had to prove before I could believe he was going to return to his Pro Bowl form. Most importantly, I wanted proof he was really going to stay on the straight and narrow this time around.
While he hasn’t run into any new issues with league discipline, his name did pop up in the local news today due to his being spotted at a bar last night past 11 p.m. with former Brown Greg Little. We don’t yet know for sure whether this led to some trouble for Gordon.
What we do know, though, is this is a bad look for someone who’s been telling us he’s finally taking things seriously.
Again, the story so far is just Gordon and Little were out at a local bar late last night. No photos show him drinking or, worse, getting high. So, in the grand scheme of things, this could very well end up being just a blip on the radar.
At the same time, this is going to elicit some skepticism for Gordon.
While I continue to reserve my excitement for his return until I see him on the field, I’ve remained impressed with the far more open approach Gordon has taken this time around. Where previous returns from suspension came with excuses like “it was second-hand smoke” and “I didn’t know this was a banned substance,” he’s been much more willing to admit his mistakes lately. Gordon went into great detail about how far he was spiraling, as well as what changes he’s made to ensure he no longer runs into any more trouble.
Just a couple weeks later, he’s getting spotted at a bar.
Gordon needs to realize he’s on a short leash. As apologetic and sincere as he’s been coming off since returning to the team facility, he still must go to great lengths to prove things will be different this time. This is the third regime Gordon has had to win over, and his work is clearly cut out for him.
So you’ll understand, then, why the Browns might be concerned hearing he was near alcohol. While being out until 11 p.m. wouldn’t be alarming for most players, Gordon is in a different boat.
He’s already served suspensions in every season since 2013. This latest return comes after spending time in rehab. Another failed test could result in yet another year-long ban. The Browns will no doubt be keeping him under a microscope to ensure he doesn’t cause any more headaches.
Hearing Gordon was out at a bar isn’t something which will cause Cleveland to consider cutting ties with him. Some heard this news and felt as though it was no big deal, that the troubled wideout can’t be bashed for having a personal life.
I get that, I do. Again, though, the fact Gordon is a special case can’t be hammered home enough. These kinds of stories are going to get published regardless of whether he’s seen with a drink in his hand strictly due to the fact he’s on what feels like his one-hundredth second chance. Until he proves he can stay out of trouble, people are going to be monitoring things like this assuming he’s on the verge of slipping again.
Gordon is going to face scrutiny like this for a while. This is because we’ve heard “I’ve learned my lesson” before, and each instance was followed with another suspension. As a result, when Gordon – fresh out of rehab – is getting spotted at a bar, there’s going to be concern.
Simply put, he’s walking a fine line, both with the Browns and the league in general. The NFL disciplinary office is going to be keeping a close eye on him to ensure he stays clean. It’s not far-fetched to think someone might be following up with Gordon upon hearing this story.
Yes, Gordon can have a social life. No, he doesn’t need a 7 p.m. curfew. At the same time, Gordon has gone to great lengths to convince us he’s changed. When he gets spotted at a bar, it makes it a little more difficult to believe him.
Gordon has been given more second chances than he probably deserves. He should know he can’t afford to blow this opportunity. As a result, he needs to try a little harder to avoid finding himself in stories like these.