Browns plan to hold wide receiver Josh Gordon accountable
BEREA, Ohio (AP) Humbled, grateful and determined to make up for lost time and to those who stood by him, Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon stood on an NFL practice field and finally felt peace.
Surrounded by teammates eager to start a new season, Gordon was home.
This is where he belongs.
Recently reinstated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell following a lengthy drug suspension, Gordon said he's been changed by his experience over the past two years. He's grown up, learned from his mistakes and is ready to be productive again.
''I definitely think I'm a different person,'' he said. ''If you haven't changed over a period of time, it's definitely a bad thing. I think me standing here is a testament to that.''
Gordon, who has been suspended for 27 of Cleveland's 32 games over the past two seasons and suspended four times in his pro career, believes he can now stay on a straight path. The 25-year-old would not confirm if he's been in rehab, but Gordon acknowledged ''taking the necessary steps'' to get his life in order.
During his 12-minute interview with media members, Gordon offered no excuses and didn't make any promises. He acknowledged prior mistakes and admitted to not listening to others.
''In the past I've been a selfish player, I'll definitely admit that,'' he said. ''I wanted to do things my way. As a young man that's just kind of how you see it, you don't really want to make time to do other things. But things turn around, people change, it's possible to change. It takes people some learning, but eventually you get to that point and I think I have.''
The Browns are counting on it, and they intend to hold Gordon accountable for his actions.
After Goodell cleared his return, Gordon met with Cleveland coach Hue Jackson and vice president of football operations Sashi Brown, who laid out their expectations for the former Pro Bowler.
As he did during a meeting earlier this month with Goodell in New York, Gordon made a strong impression on the Browns, who are convinced he's ready to turn his life around.
''For us it's about Josh wanting to make a change, and having the opportunity,'' Brown said. ''We've got 90 guys on the roster right now and he's one of those young men that has an opportunity. We'll find out very quickly if he's serious about it. We believe that he is. We'll hold him accountable. He's going have to hold himself accountable.
''Frankly, let's be honest, there's nothing we're going to be able to do to force Josh to change. The change is going to be within and we will support him through that.''
Jackson said Gordon's future rests in his own hands.
''We understand that the league has expectations for him, and we do, too,'' Jackson said. ''We shared those with him, and I truly believe that he wants to make it right, as well. His slate's clean with me. I don't have a lot of history with Josh that way, but his history is preceding him. He knows that. I think the only way to deal with a player in these situations is to kind of hit the restart button for him and he has to go do it.''
On the eve of what they hope will be an uneventful training camp, the Browns also addressed the controversy involving running back Isaiah Crowell.
Crowell has been heavily and criticized since posting a gruesome illustration on social media of a police officer being stabbed following the shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota. He issued two apologies, one on video, and Crowell recently attended the funeral of one of the five policemen killed during an ambush at a protest in Dallas.
Also, Crowell pledged to donate his first game check next season (about $35,000) to the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation.
The Browns have been satisfied with Crowell's actions and feel his remorse is genuine.
''I truly believe he will continue to work at making this right,'' Jackson said. ''It's going to be an opportunity for us to really teach our team. It's unfortunate it's that kind of lesson to learn, but sometimes that's what it is. But moreso than that, I truly believe it's not who Isaiah Crowell is and I hope everybody just gives him an opportunity to prove that as we move forward.''
Crowell again expressed regret for ''my mistake.''
''It's my fault,'' he said. ''I man up and apologize to everyone. I'm sorry to my fans and the whole Browns organization. I'll do my best to show everyone that's not who I am.''
NOTES: Jackson plans to name his starting quarterback for the season before the Aug. 12 exhibition opener against Green Bay. Robert Griffin III is expected to win the job over veteran Josh McCown. RG3 is trying to revive his career, which nose-dived in Washington after a spectacular start. ... DE Desmond Bryant, who underwent surgery after tearing his pectoral muscle working out, was officially placed on the reserve/non-football injury list and will miss the entire season. Bryant led the Browns in sacks last season. ... The Browns unveiled a $15 million renovation to their facility, doubling the size or their training room and adding a 5,000-square foot natatorium, which includes a two-lane, 25-yard lap pool.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL