The events that led the talented yet troubled wideout to step away from football.

By Alaa Abdeldaiem
December 20, 2018

Josh Gordon has had a roller-coaster career as a wide receiver playing in the NFL. 

After nearly four months with the New England Patriots, Gordon announced on Thursday that he was "stepping away from football" to focus on his mental health. Gordon is also facing an indefinite suspension for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement under the Policy and Program for Substance Abuse, which could spell the end of his NFL career.

Thursday's news is just the latest chapter in what has been years of highs and lows for the talented yet troubled wideout. Gordon saw his time with the Cleveland Browns come to an end after six on-and-off seasons, but his issues didn't stop with the move to New England. Gordon's past has once again caught up with him, and now, he's running close to empty on his chances.

Here's a look back at all of the events that have led Gordon to this point in his career.

Pre-2010: In a candid interview with GQ, Gordon admitted that he started abusing drugs in seventh grade. Gordon said he used Xanax, marijuana and codeine to deal with anxiety and fear. "I didn't want to feel anxiety, I didn't want to feel fear. I didn't plan on living to 18. Day-to-day life, what's gonna happen next?" Gordon said. "Truthfully, that's where it started from for me. The anxiety, the fitting in and stuff. Not being comfortable with who I was."

Oct. 7, 2010: Gordon, a sophomore at Baylor, is found asleep in the passenger's seat of teammate Willie Jefferson's car outside of Taco Bell. Both Gorodn and Jefferson were arrested on misdemeanor drug possession chargers after marijuana was found in the car. Gordon's misdemeanor chargers were later dropped.

July 25, 2011: Baylor coach Art Briles suspends Gordon indefinitely for a violation of team rules. It was later reported that Gordon had tested positive for marijuana on a failed drug test.

August 25, 2011: Gordon transferred to Utah after Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said he believed Gordon "deserved a second chance." However the receiver changed his mind and entered the NFL’s supplemental draft, but declared too late for 2011. Because of that he had to sit out the entire 2011 season with Utah.

July 12, 2012: The Cleveland Browns sacrifice a 2013 second-round draft pick to select Gordon in the second round of the 2012 Supplemental Draft. Four days later, Gordon signs a four-year, $5.3 million deal with the Browns.

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Sept. 9, 2012: Gordon starts in his first NFL game, recording two catches for 32 yards in a 17–16 loss to the Eagles. Gordon would go on to have a breakout rookie season, accumulating 50 catches for 805 yards and five touchdowns for the Browns.

June 7, 2013: The NFL suspends Gordon for two games to start the 2013 season after the second-year receiver violates he league's substance abuse policy. 

Dec. 1, 2013: Gordon becomes the first wide receiver to post back-to-back 200-yard receiving games. Gordon erupted for 237 yards against the Steelers and then another 261 yards against the Jaguars in consecutive weeks. Later that month, Gordon is elected to a Pro Bowl with a league-leading 1,646 receiving yards. He also earns first-team All-Pro honors for his stellar season.

July 5, 2014: Gordon is arrested in Raleigh, N.C. after cops pulled him over for speeding. Gordon had a blood-alcohol level of .09, which was above the state legal limit of .08.

August 27, 2014: The NFL suspends Gordon for the entire 2014 season after the wideout violates the league's substance abuse policy for the second time. "I’d like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Cleveland Browns organization and our fans," Gordon said in a statement released by the NFLPA. "I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn’t exercise better discretion and judgment in my case. I would like to sincerely thank the people who have been incredibly supportive of me during this challenging time, including my family, my agent, my union, my legal team, and the Cleveland Browns staff.” Gordon later had his suspension reduced to ten games.

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Nov. 17, 2014: Gordon is reinstated by the NFL. In the Browns game against the Falcons that week, Gordon burns Atlanta for eight catches and 120 yards.

Dec. 27, 2014: Gordon is suspended by the Browns for the regular season finale for a violation of team rules.

Jan. 25, 2015: The NFL gives Gordon another year-long suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, this time testing positive for alcohol.

July 25, 2016: Gordon is officially reinstated by the NFL after his first application for reinstatement in January was denied. He is allowed to participate in training camp but remains suspended for Cleveland's first four games.

Sept. 29, 2016: Gordon decides to take a leave of absence and enter a rehab facility in New Hampshire. "This is the right decision for me and one that I hope will enable me to gain full control of my life and continue on a path to reach my full potential as a person," Gordon said in a statement. "I appreciate the support of the NFL, NFLPA, the Browns, my teammates, my agent and the community through this extremely challenging process."

Nov. 1, 2017: Gordon is reinstated to the NFL on a conditional basis with a chance to return to play for the Browns in Week 13.

Dec. 3, 2017: Gordon is targeted 11 times in his return against the Chargers, catching four passes for 85 yards in a 19–10 loss. Gordon finishes the season with 18 catches for 335 yards and one touchdown.

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August 18, 2018: Gordon reports to Browns training camp after missing three weeks.

Sept. 17, 2018: The Browns trade Gordon to the Patriots for a fifth-round pick after announcing that they were parting ways with the wideout, who earlier "violated the team's trust." Gordon reportedly showed up late to the team's facility with a hamstring injury he suffered during a promotional video shoot. 

Sept. 30, 2018: Gordon makes his debut for the Patriots, catching two passes for 32 yards in New England's 38–7 win over Miami. "I have no doubt I'm going to take advantage of this opportunity," Gordon told Boston.com after the game. "I'm more than blessed."

Oct. 29, 2018: The Patriots discipline Gordon for tardiness, benching him for about one quarter in their Week 8 matchup against the Bills.

Dec. 20, 2018: Gordon announces he's stepping away from football to focus on his mental health. ESPN's Adam Schefter later reported that Gordon is facing another indefinite suspension for violating the terms of his reinstatement.

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