Does Josh Gordon Have a Future with Seahawks?
After reading the defense and identifying the middle linebacker, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took the second down snap and executed a three-step drop, scanning the field for open receivers.
With minimal pressure coming from Carolina's pass rush, Wilson calmly stepped up and fired a deep ball down the numbers, intending to connect with receiver Josh Gordon on a skinny post. Showing off his cannon arm, the pass looked to have too much air under it, out of reach of the receiver.
But Gordon turned on his afterburners, extended his arms, and dove for the football, managing to catch the pass in his fingertips as he sprawled out on the turf. The sensational reception went for 58 yards and moments later, Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for a 19-yard touchdown to extend Seattle's lead to 20-7.
"The catch that Josh made is as good as a catch as you could ever see, I would think," coach Pete Carroll said following the game. "For as long as that pass was and the layout and to catch it like he did was a magnificent play."
Finishing off the highlight reel grab was just the latest illustration of the tantalizing talent that has granted Gordon opportunity after opportunity in the NFL. After a quiet first four games with the Seahawks, the decision to claim him off waivers looked to paying off just in time for the postseason.
But in predictable fashion, much to the dismay of his many supporters, the catch may have been his last with the Seahawks and potentially his final one in the NFL.
On the Monday after Seattle's 30-24 win in Carolina, the team broke the news on social media announcing Gordon had been announced indefinitely for violating the NFL's performance enhancing drugs protocol. It was the fifth suspension the receiver had received from the league, with each revolving around substance abuse.
After spending six weeks earning the trust of his teammates and coaches, Gordon had once again let himself and his team down. On the suspension list, he could no longer access the Seahawks facility and had been stripped of the team's support mechanisms.
Doing his best to process the news while answering questions from reporters, Carroll empathized with Gordon's ongoing battle, understanding football should be the least of his concerns at this stage.
"My heart goes out to Josh having to face this again. The fact that he’s up against it and all poses a great challenge to him. Fortunately, he’ll have the benefit of all of the league’s resources to support him and help him. We wish him the very best in taking care of business. It was very unfortunate.”
While acknowledging the organization wouldn't be able to communicate with the banished receiver during his suspension, Carroll felt Gordon thrived in Seattle's environment and "fit in well."
Displaying outstanding work ethic and quickly becoming a beloved teammate during in his brief time with the team, Wilson agreed and expressed interest in bringing him back.
"He was just like 'man, this is the place I want to be. This is the place that helped changed my life a little bit and I’m getting better.' I think that all those things, you hope that he can come back to us and play with us. More importantly, it’s about him. It’s about his soul. It’s about life. It’s about all the things that we all have to go through and overcome.”
Looking at his future, the first major issue that has to be resolved - one that the NFL won't take lightly - is whether or not Gordon deserves another shot. He's been allowed to return to play on a conditional basis four times previously and hasn't been able to stay clean.
With two suspensions in two years, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Gordon's latest mishap serves as the last straw for the league. In fact, it could be argued such a conclusion is probable.
Assuming that doesn't wind up being the case, Seattle would then have to determine whether re-signing Gordon would be prudent, and it'd be a conflicting decision. His talent is undeniable, but as Carroll commented, playing football again shouldn't be a top priority and a myriad of factors would have to be examined closely to make the right call.
Under Carroll, however, the Seahawks have always believed their culture can bring out the best in players on and off the field. While the Gordon experiment didn't pan out as hoped, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the organization give him another chance due to the unwavering faith they have in their locker room and veteran leadership.
If Wilson's comments are any indication, there will be no shortage of player support for such a move. Seeing as he's still happily in the Pacific Northwest, that may be exactly what Gordon yearns for as well.
At the end of the day, the ball remains in the NFL's court, as they will be the ones who decide if Gordon will be eligible or not. It will likely be months until such a determination is made, leaving his playing future shrouded in uncertainty.
But most importantly, even if he's reinstated, Gordon must do whatever it takes to right the ship mentally and beat his personal demons. If that path isn't meant to include football, then so be it. That is what truly matters right now, not whether or not he wears an NFL uniform again.