Living with an addiction can be a roller coaster even after the person has completed a 12-step program. That’s why there’s an old saying in substance abuse recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous: “One day at a time.” Wide receiver Josh Gordon is living proof of that phrase even as he fights to get his NFL career back on track.
A roller coaster season
Last season ended on a major down note for Gordon, details Patriots Wire. On December 19th, the star wide receiver, who was playing for the Seattle Seahawks at the time, was suspended from the league with an uncertain return date. As of this writing, his suspension remains at the discretion of the NFL. The reason? Another substance abuse infraction. While it might seem like Gordon simply “fell off the wagon,” there’s more to last season’s story than that.
At the beginning of 2019, Gordon was technically still playing for the New England Patriots. Two years prior, Gordon completed a rehabilitation program, and was reinstated by the league following his fourth substance abuse infraction. That should have been the end of it.
In his first full season back in the league after nearly three years, Gordon was traded to New England where he began a new phase of his career. Instead, Gordon found himself face-to-face with yet another suspension. Before the 2019 season even hit full stride, Gordon was placed on the injured reserve list for mental health reasons before being released by New England altogether.
Seattle quickly picked him up, but he had little effect on the new team, catching a meager 139 yards across five games. Then, tragedy struck.
Things were turbulent for the young receiver both on and off the field. His triumphant return to the NFL had fallen flat, and he seemed dangerously close to another relapse.
At the same time that Gordon was experiencing mental health issues, and subsequently moving to Seattle, his personal life took a turn for the worst as well. On November 11th, reports USA Today, his brother tragically passed away. While little is known about his brother’s death, it was nonetheless instrumental in Gordon’s latest crisis.
Regardless of his personal life, his on the field behavior forced Roger Goodell’s hand. On December 19th, Gordon was suspended yet again, and summarily released from the Seattle Seahawks.
Gordon’s options going forward
Since his latest suspension began, Gordon has had plenty of time to process his brother’s passing. Gordon’s lawyer told ESPN, “Josh had a lapse because of his brother’s death. That set him back. But since that time, he has realized how important it is for him to take the right steps, do what’s proper, and understand how to manage these issues.”
Whether that means that Gordon has completed a new rehab program remains nebulous, but it sounds as if he’s at least taken steps to install a stronger support system in his personal life. So where does that leave him professionally?
Nothing’s for certain yet. Gordon has only applied for reinstatement. Ultimately, the decision is up to Commissioner Goodell and the good graces of the NFL. If he does get approved for reinstatement, however, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.
At his best, Gordon is a solid wide receiver that can add depth to anybody’s roster. In his second year in the league, he caught for 1,600 yards and nine touchdowns. But you never know what version of Gordon you’re going to get. One of the few teams that’s shown interest, or forgiveness rather, is the Seattle Seahawks, according to ESPN. They’ve expressed some interest in rehiring him.
Nothing is for certain though. If the fifth time really is a charm for the new free agent, he’ll have to go where fate takes him.