Josh Gordon is still not present at Cleveland Browns training camp, the reason for which has been relatively veiled since he announced he’d be absent in late July.
After weeks of silence, new details surrounding Gordon emerged this morning, details which shed more light on the anxiety he claimed he was stepping away to address.
Per WKYC in Cleveland, the Browns wideout received a court order on July 20 to begin paying $6,765 in monthly support for his daughter. Three days later, he announced he would miss the start of training camp as part of his health and treatment plan.
What we don’t know is how much this story played a factor in Gordon’s self-imposed hiatus. Despite that, this is another red flag for a player who just can’t seem to stay out of his own way.
Sure, this latest issue isn’t one which involved Gordon breaking the law. He hasn’t failed another drug test, nor is he in danger of getting suspended again. That much needs to be said.
At the same time, today’s development potentially damages the narrative that Gordon was simply proactively addressing anxiety. On the surface, it instead looks like he was running away from a child support dispute.
This has been a lengthy ordeal for Gordon, one which dates back to 2016 when it was determined the child in question was his. It’s worth noting he abruptly entered rehab the same day this was announced.
If his skipping training camp was another example of his trying to run away from his problems, I’m not sure what he thought the outcome of this decision would be.
He was ordered by a court to financially support a child which has been confirmed as his own. This isn’t a matter of picking sides, of arguing whether you feel the amount he now owes is fair. There’s no grey area, no holes to poke in this aspect of the story. This was a specific amount ordered by a judge, and Gordon not paying it could result in jail time.
If his response to this fact was to skip town, his financial obligations will still follow him. If it’s a matter of his not having the necessary funds, well, his only option is finding a way to pay it off.
The underlying theme you come across when you parse through all the details here is the fact none of it looks good on Gordon.
If he left town solely because of the anxiety he felt from this situation, there would be a slight positive to take from this. That he chose stepping away over reverting back to the drug and alcohol issues which plagued his past can be seen as a sign of progress.
Additionally, none of the reports seem to indicate whether or not he paid his first monthly charge. For all we know, he’s already made the initial payment.
However, silver linings do seem a bit tough to find here. This is story involves a child Gordon denied was his until a paternity test confirmed it. He’s has also missed several court appearances, and reportedly no-showed for an initial DNA test. While not confirmed, there’s enough evidence to lead one to believe this is another instance of him hiding from the issue once again.
If this is the case, it changes the narrative completely.
Gordon would no longer be seen as taking positive steps towards bettering his mental health. He’d instead be trying to duck the responsibility of paying child support. Whether or not he has the funds to cover the first charge is irrelevant. The order has been handed down, and there’s nothing he can do to get around that.
I hope this isn’t the case. I hope the Browns, from the front office to Gordon’s teammates, haven’t been wishing him well while he’s trying to avoid child support payments. I hope his departure was nothing more than feeling anxious from writing out his first check, and just making sure he didn’t revert to old habits as a result.
If that’s not what this is, if he’s truly just running away from the concept of supporting his own child, it would surely undo a lot of the positive work he’s been doing to try and clean his image.