The View From Pluto: Browns' Josh Gordon Gets One Last Chance At Redemption
The Cleveland Browns begin their fresh start this week, as training camp opens on Friday in Berea. The team that switched coaches and executives in the off-season has been overshadowed lately by the champion Cavs and the first-place Indians. However, the Browns returned to the spotlight this week when the NFL allowed suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon to return to the team.
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says this is likely Gordon's last chance to prove himself to the Browns.
"[He's] like the king of suspensions," Pluto says.
"He has missed in the last two years, 27 of the last 32 games. He has had suspension in each of the last three seasons of some sort. He hasn't not played well since 2013 when he broke a bunch of records passing receptions, yards and so on."
First, Gordon was suspended for two games in 2013 when he tested positive for codeine. "He claimed it was in cough syrup, but that's also used in some party drugs." In 2014, he was suspended for 10 games "because he flunked some tests for marijuana. Came back and played five games and then was suspended by the team for the final game of the 2014 season because he wasn't in shape to play." Then he missed all of 2015 for violating NFL drug policies.
Who's going to show up?
Pluto says we don't know a whole lot about what Gordon has been up to since he was suspended.
"Athletically, he's at his prime at 25. He posts all of these Instagram photos of him in shape with his shirt off, and he looks like he is."
However, we learned on Tuesday that Gordon will miss the first two weeks of training camp with a quad injury he suffered during his summer training.
Cause for hope
Pluto says the NFL also got something else right this time around -- They're allowing Gordon to take part in team activities, although in a limited manner, while he serves a four-game suspension.
"In the past, when he was suspended, he was not allowed to be at the facility. I always thought that was a bad idea. You got a guy with a guy with a drug problem...so [you're] not going to let him be around where there's structure and where all the drug programs are? No, let's throw him back out on the street where all the problems are. Stupid thinking. I once asked an executive that and he said the only thing he could think of is that the guy is so bad that you don't want him around your facility. I said, 'Well then you should cut him!'"
Pluto says Gordon will play a lot in training camp and probably can play in pre-season games and he will be constantly drug tested.
"This is going to be an interstate highway for him to get back into the good graces of the NFL and the Browns. There's no red lights; there's no construction that's going to force him to get off; there's no detours. The road is straight."
Cause for trepidation
Pluto says there are reports in the last few weeks he's been hanging out with troubled former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel. "I've heard for years that the problem with Josh Gordon is his associates. I really believe that after all my years of prison ministry, you have to be ruthless in cutting off these people from your past that has caused the problem.
I'm sure the league told Josh that you're one more suspension away from a lifetime ban. I don't know what he's going to do, but I'm curious to see how he plays.
Overloaded with receivers
The new Browns regime are welcoming him back with trepidation and hope, Pluto says. "Their view is this: 'We're not going to be very good anyway.' They already have 11 receivers in camp. Gordon is No. 12. Now obviously he probably has more natural ability than any of these guys. But, he messes up, it's not like they have to hang on to Josh Gordon to make the playoffs. It's more like, this might be the difference between wining four games and five games."
"He's still only 25. He wouldn't be the first guy that the light went on in his middle twenties and had a significant career. There's not a lot of them, but it wouldn't be the first one. So, they're open to it. But they're not selling their soul to Josh Gordon at all."
Training camp excitement
"I would suggest to fans to go out to the practices. Hue Jackson and his staff are fun to watch. They are very, very vocal and they move at a swift pace. It's been a lot different than the lastcoupleof regimes."
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