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The Cleveland Browns Biggest Mistake Would be Giving Up on Josh Gordon
The moment Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was arrested following Independence Day, many fans of the team had already begun playing judge and jury. Gordon was formally charged with “Driving While Intoxicated,” and while the substance had not been revealed yet, the popular opinion seemed to dictate that would end up as another marijuana related incident.
We now know that it was alcohol-related, with Gordon registering a .09 blood alcohol level and the legal limit in North Carolina being a .08, it is an unfortunate break for the troubled 23-year old. While some have argued that .01 over the limit may not seem like a lot, it is just one more run-in with trouble for Gordon.
The failed drug tests stemming back to Baylor and Utah are well documented, but the speeding ticket, his passenger being caught with possession and now the DWI, are all blatant signs that Gordon is in dire need of help. The incident couldn’t come at a worse time, as he is already in an appeal process with the league to attempt to minimize a suspension for another failed drug test.
If he had planned to use the “I’m a changed man” plea, he will likely now be met with a lot of raised eyebrows from his accusers after this most recent arrest. It’s a foregone conclusion that the Browns will probably be missing their star wideout for the 2014 season, but the real question is what to do about the troubled athlete going forward?
NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter weighed in with his opinion, stating “if I’m the Cleveland Browns — and it’s gut-wrenching for me to say this — I really think that the only thing that’s going to help the kid is if they release him.”
While the hitting-rock-bottom method worked for Carter, today’s NFL isn’t as much about punishment for illegal substances, it is more about rehabilitation, and that’s exactly the path the Cleveland Browns should take. With general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine preaching the “Play Like a Brown” mentality and trying to develop a family atmosphere in the locker room, cutting your star receiver for having developed a substance problem seems to counteract that message.
Carter’s method should be used as a last resort, but with an unbelievable talent like Gordon, the Browns should exhaust all options before throwing in the towel. Shutting Gordon down for the year, as the league is likely to do anyways, could be the best thing for him at this time. When someone sells out a future $10-plus million a season contract over a couple substances, it is a pretty safe bet that they need to get their life back on track.
Former Cleveland Browns captain D’Qwell Jackson made a public plea as well, stating “if you’re close to Josh Gordon please help this kid, it’s not about football anymore it’s about picking up the pieces of his life.”
“He needs help, he really does,” Jackson said. “He needs people to extend themselves and probably have to do more than they wanted to do. But if (the Browns) care anything about the kid, they have to do it.”
Conventional wisdom, and many fans around Cleveland, are more than ready to give up on Gordon, but others like Jackson are not as convinced. With the low rookie salary that Gordon is currently on, the team takes very little risk keeping him on the roster and hoping for him to mature and come around. The talent level that he can elevate to only comes around a couple times a decade, and whether he does or not, you simply do not pull the plug on the Gordon experiment just yet.
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