NFL: Is Wide Receiver Josh Gordon Ready to Return?

Josh Gordon’s entire career has been marred with suspensions, many due to the league’s substance-abuse policy. Going into the 2019 season, Gordon is once again on the outside looking in. This is because of his indefinite suspension, which caused him to miss the Patriots last two regular games and all three playoff games carries over into the 2019 season.

After filing for reinstatement, could Josh Gordon soon be back on the football field?

Josh Gordon’s suspension history

Days before his suspension, Josh Gordon released a statement that stated he was stepping away from football to focus on his mental health. It was later announced that he had once again been suspended for violating the terms of the league’s substance-abuse policy. His entire career dating back to college has been marred with similar controversies, and Gordon has been candid about his past, specifically with pills, alcohol, and marijuana. 

After in his entire rookie season and the majority of his second season (he missed two games with his first substance abuse violation), Gordon began to miss more games than he played in. During the 2014 offseason, Gordon was arrested for a DUI and suspended for 10 games.

He would go on to miss the entire 2015 season, and although he was reinstated, he missed the entire 2016 season as well. He was once again suspended in 2017. Surprisingly, 2018 was the most he played in since his second year in the NFL.

What now?

The league has historically denied many of Josh Gordon’s reinstatement requests. With each new issue, they are likely to continue this tradition until Gordon can prove that he can stay sober for long enough to receive the benefit of the doubt.

It is notable, however, that the Patriots did re-sign him in the offseason knowing that his indefinite suspension was looming, and the Gordon has been recorded practicing with Tom Brady in the NFL offseason. 

While there may be some outside influence, commissioner Roger Goodell has sole discretion over how long Gordon will be suspended. Goodell has been vocal about his desire that Gordon can get clean and utilize the resources that the NFL affords him as he tries to get back on the field. He has stated that he will consider Gordon’s reinstatement when Gordon has shown that he is ready. 

“Once he gets on the right track, we’ll get to that place,” he said in March, according to ESPN. “But I think right now, he has had a complete focus on ‘I have to get myself all cleared in the right place before I can get back on the field.” 

Some could see Gordon’s delayed reinstatement as a sign that he is ready to get back on the football field and help the Patriots try to repeat their Super Bowl success.

What does this mean for Josh Gordon?

Josh Gordon will have to wait for the final word from the commissioner. From a football perspective, however, it would appear that he is staying sharp. Of course, Goodell is notoriously difficult to gauge. This is not only true for suspensions such as Gordon’s but on suspensions in general.

If Gordon can come back onto the field and stay on it, he has shown that he still has what it takes to be an NFL player. Not to mention he is only 27, so he still has time to play, if he so desires. 

What does this mean for the Patriots?

The continued support shows that the Patriots see a place on the team for Gordon. They did, after all, send a fifth-round pick in exchange for his services after his time with the Browns was over. While reigning the Super Bowl MVP is a lock as the leader at the wide receiver position, it is safe to assume that Phillip Dorsett, Matthew Slater, and rookie N’Keal Harry will also be on the roster. 

Gordon, however, may not be utilized in his natural position. He played running back for a good portion of his time with the team last season. If he can stay on the field, he could find some minutes at both positions. If he is allowed to play, the Patriots already scary offense may have another weapon to make them scarier.