Anyone who pays attention to the NFL knows that Josh Gordon’s return is a pretty big deal. The Cleveland wide receiver’s well-known battle with substance abuse has kept him off the field since 2014. Back when this all began, the fans couldn’t comprehend how someone so talented could throw it all away for a quick high. We put athletes on pedestals, forgetting sometimes that they are human. No one is immune to addiction and the effect it has on their life, as well as those closest to them. Gordon was no exception.

Free-falling

It is important to recognize the issues he had early on with drugs and alcohol. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Gordon admitted to raking in roughly $10,000 a month from selling marijuana while he was in college. Now, some will say ‘student athletes can’t receive gifts or money so… he was just supporting himself by any means’. First of all, drugs are never the answer. Secondly, this highlights his dependence on marijuana, namely as a source of income throughout college. Oh, and another thing to remember: people who sell drugs are also more likely to abuse them and Gordon was no different. In his interview with GQ, he admitted to getting high or drinking before every NFL game. It became an unhealthy ritual that eventually caught up to him:

  • Two game-suspension in 2013 for violating the substance abuse policy of the NFL
  • Arrested for DWI in the summer of 2014
  • Suspended for the entire 2014 season but was able to get it reduced to just 10 games
  • Suspended for the entire 2015 seasonEmbed from Getty Images

Working Towards Sobriety

Josh Gordon was offered reinstatement in 2016 under special circumstances; he passed. Instead, he was able to find the strength and courage he needed to go back to rehab. The most amazing part about his story is that he finally decided that his life was worth living. He didn’t decide to get sober for his career or the money. This young man decided to do it for HIMSELF. By continuing to choose sobriety, he is choosing himself and his family over the drugs and alcohol. Gordon was a lost and reckless young man who took life for granted. In the time he spent recovering, he has grown in more ways than one. I hope others who are struggling can use his story as a source of strength, and become inspired to change their lives for the better.

Tune in to watch the Gordon take the field for the first time since 2014 when the Browns visit the Chargers on Sunday. I believe he’ll have no trouble settling in. Let’s blow that 2013 season out of the water!

Also, if you haven’t already, check out his interview with GQ.

He opens up about a lot of personal experiences that have led him to where he is now. Great read!