Last week troubled receiver Josh Gordon convinced NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell he’s willing to change his ways.
This week he convinced the Browns.
“We are glad to have him back,” Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said Thursday.
Brown along with head coach Hue Jackson and other members of the organization had a matter of fact meeting with Gordon Tuesday, a day after his conditional reinstatement, where they outlined their expectations of him going forward – on as well as off the field.
The meeting left Brown believing that Gordon finally wants to turn around his career, and more importantly his life.
“We’ll find out very quickly if he’s serious about it,” Brown said. “We believe that he is. We’ll hold him accountable. He’s going have to hold himself accountable.
“Frankly, let’s be honest, there’s nothing we’re going to be able to do to force Josh to change. The change is going to be within and we will support him through that.”
Since the Browns tendered a second round pick in the 2012 supplemental draft, Gordon has been suspended four times by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy – 2 games in 2013, 10 more in 2014, a year-long ban in 2015 and 4 games in 2016.
The team also suspended him for the final game of the 2014 season for violating team rules by not showing up to a walk through.
Including the latest suspension, that adds up to 33 games he will have sat out compared to playing in just 35 games, but head coach Hue Jackson is willing to give Gordon a fresh start.
“I know who Josh Gordon is as a football player. What really captured me was Josh Gordon as a person,” Jackson said. “I think that Josh truly understands and believes, it’s about him. He has to do this himself. He’s a grown man.”
Gordon’s talent is unquestioned. He’s racked up 2,754 yards and 14 touchdowns including a league-leading 1,646 yards in 14 games in 2014.
It’s off the field that has derailed his career, which he gets another opportunity to resurrect it here in 2016.
“We understand that the league has expectations for him and we do too,” Jackson said. “And we shared those with him, and I truly believe that he wants to make it right as well. I think what’s important, I think you guys kind of know how I go about it – his slate’s clean with me.
“The league has said what their expectations are, we have set what our expectations are, we’ve laid it out and I think it’s crystal clear what needs to happen as we move forward.”
Brown said that the team was not told by the league office why Gordon was suspended for 4 games to start the season, but they were in contact and had conversations surrounding the circumstances of his reinstatement, including allowing him in the building during the suspension.
“If the message from Josh and the pledge from Josh wasn’t consistent with what we wanted to see from him, we would’ve made a different decision,” Brown said. “That wasn’t the case. He’s in earnest wants to make the most of this opportunity and he knows his situation and so we’re going to get around him, give him that opportunity.”
Gordon’s return to the field is on hold after he reported to camp with a quadriceps injury that will sideline him for a few weeks.