As if things weren’t strange enough in Cleveland, a ghost from its recent past returns to meetings and conditioning work this week. Josh Gordon, a 2013 Pro Bowl receiver who led the league in yards despite missing two games that year due to suspension, has not taken an NFL snap since Dec. 21, 2014.
Not much has changed in Cleveland since Gordon’s lengthy suspension and reinstatement process. The Browns (0-8) couldn’t manage to stumble out of the trade deadline without a Letterman-worthy gaffe. Their head coach seems fed up. Their quarterback, DeShone Kizer, looks like he is hanging on to sanity by a fingernail.
Can Gordon help in any way? And what can we reasonably expect from someone who has not taken an NFL snap in almost three years?
If Gordon returns and plays in the first game he’s eligible, that will mark 1,078 days (25,872 hours, 154 weeks) since his last NFL action. That kind of gap between starts is long, but not unprecedented. Imagine being Todd Collins, the former Washington quarterback who waited a full decade between starts.
After a 20-14 loss to the Jaguars back on Dec. 14, 1997, it took Collins, then with the Bills, until Dec. 16, 2007 before he jogged off the sidelines with the first string. His stat line for the afternoon was 8-of-25 (32 percent completion rate) for 166 yards and no touchdowns. Washington beat the Giants 22-10 at the Meadowlands and went on to win their final two games with Collins at the helm. They lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Seattle Seahawks (Collins threw 50–50!!–passes in the defeat).
"It's been a long road and I've done my best to keep myself ready for every challenge, every week," Collins told The New York Times after the 10-year hiatus was broken. "I was never sure how it would all turn out, but I remained persistent and I kept myself prepared, just in case I'd have another opportunity. This is my turn and I have to make the most of it."
Gordon’s situation is obviously different. He plays a skill position and while there has been reports of his training (former Olympic sprinter Tim Montgomery has been involved) and an Instagram page peppered with workout shots and videos, it would take a small miracle—and some type of stability at the quarterback position—for this comeback to gain steam. Here’s hoping I’m wrong—Gordon was jaw-dropping in 2013. His long, effortless stride and raw physicality at the position were something to behold, something the Browns could have used over the last 1,078 days.
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1. Like the little league dad who trashes the orange slices after a sloppy game, Dolphins head coach Adam Gase sent what the Miami Herald is calling a “pointed message” to his players with the Jay Ajayi trade. Life on South Beach has to be earned apparently.
2. Giants head coach and pomade enthusiast Ben McAdoo is trying to keep it together, but has suspended another one of his starting cornerbacks indefinitely. This rapidly has the feel of a voice that is no longer being taken seriously in the locker room.
3. Forbes takes a dive into the television ratings, and why we’re simply over saturated with football. By the way, the Jets and Bills are on tonight.
4. Speaking of the Jets, the team is intent on hanging tough for the remainder of the season. And why not, at this point? A win over the Bills would almost certainly save Todd Bowles and bring him back for another season.
5. Pro Football Focus has a fun piece up about the best quarterbacks on the move outside of the pocket. The answer might surprise you…
6. ESPN has a timeline of the A.J. McCarron trade fiasco, including a scene where Andy Dalton walks by a bombarded McCarron with reporters at his locker and proclaimed the whole thing as “fake news.” Classic Dalton.
7. There exists a chance we never actually see Jimmy Garoppolo play a down in the NFL. Like the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, we’ll just spend our lives in awe, wondering what could be.
8. Washington Post columnist Dan Steinberg agrees with professional take-haver Stephen A. Smith: The Redskins are just kind of boring.
9. Packers beat guru Tom Silverstein brings the heat on Dom Capers and the Packer defense.
10. Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette writes that losing out on Dont’a Hightower may have been a blessing in disguise for the Pittsburgh Steelers defense.
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