Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has penned an open letter discussing his upbringing, drug use and NFL suspension.
Gordon addresses his letter to Charles Barkley, Stephen A. Smith, Cris Carter and "other interested parties." Barkley, Smith and Carter are three pundits who have criticized Gordon, who recently failed a drug test after reportedly testing positive for alcohol. He was arrested for DWI over the summer following his suspension for violating the NFL's drug policy.
The receiver writes that while he truly appreciates the "outpouring of concern about my well being," many of his critics haven't bothered to consider his background. Gordon describes his difficult childhood in Fondren, a poor area of Houston, where drug use and crime was rampant. Gordon admits that he made a number of mistakes growing up, including "hanging out with the wrong kind of people," but thinks that his critics need to take his upbringing into account.
After discussing his childhood, Gordon discusses recent events, including his most recent failed drug test. Gordon writes that the league mandated him to abstain from alcohol as a prerequisite for reinstatement following his suspension this past season. Gordon then describes an incident that occurred earlier this month:
On Jan. 2 of this year, just days after our season ended earlier than we all had hoped — and yes, my actions during the prior offseason definitely contributed to our failure to make the playoffs; it killed me seeing our guys fight so hard when I wasn’t out there with them — I boarded a private flight to Las Vegas with several teammates. During the flight, I had two beers and two drinks. It was the first time I had consumed so much as a drop of alcohol since July 4, 2014, the day of the DWI.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not much of a drinker. Even calling me a social drinker would be an exaggeration, but at that moment, on that flight, I made a choice. The wrong choice, as it turned out.
Upon landing, I received the all-too-familiar notice by phone that I was to report to a testing location within four hours. I failed the test, obviously, and the rest is history … colored by media speculation and faux outrage.
Gordon writes that he thought the alcohol ban ended at the conclusion of the regular season, but that he "failed" himself in not confirming that was the case.
Despite his history of issues with the NFL's drug policy, Gordon argues that he is not a drug addict nor an alcoholic and that he deserves to be treated with more respect.
I am a human being, with feelings and emotions and scars and flaws, just like anyone else. I make mistakes — I have made a lot of mistakes — but I am a good person, and I will persevere.
If I have a “problem,” it is that I am only 23 years old — with a lot left to learn. I’ve come a long way from those mean Fondren streets, but it’s clear that I can be a better me — one who kids coming up to me for selfies and autographs can be proud of. I want that future for myself. And I truly believe that what I am going through right now will only make me stronger. I believe that my future is bright.
Gordon, a second-round pick in the 2012 supplemental draft and a first-team All-Pro in 2013, only played in five games in 2014 due to his suspension. The three-year pro caught 24 passes for 303 yards and no touchdowns this season, a year after catching 87 passes for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Browns finished 7-9 in 2014.
- Stanley Kay