The odds of Josh Gordon ever playing for the Cleveland Browns again are inching closer to the slim-to-none level.
After being suspended in each of the last 4 seasons, missing a total of 33 games as a result and now headed to rehab, Gordon appears to have run out of lives with the Browns.
Head coach Hue Jackson declined to discuss the specifics surrounding the timing and motive for Gordon’s decision to leave the team to seek treatment.
“Obviously Josh is not here and doing what he thinks he’s doing what he needs to do for his life which we support 100 percent,” Jackson said. “I think what’s best for our football team is we move forward and move on. He’s not gonna be with us and we wish him well but we’re moving forward. We’re going to move on.”
Setting aside the human element, whether or not the Browns will now move on completely from Gordon from a football perspective has yet to be made official but similar to the Johnny Manziel situation earlier this year, all signs point to a separation.
Although executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown wouldn’t address Gordon;s roster status specifically.
“We support Josh in taking this step to seek additional help and treatment,” Brown wrote in a statement. “His singular focus must be on his own health. We want nothing more than for Josh to be successful personally and professionally and will not comment on his status with the organization at this time.”
Translation: it’s not a matter of if, simply when.
Receiver Andrew Hawkins understands what Gordon is fighting better than anyone. He lost his sister Lucia Young, who was 30, this offseason which is why he was not surprised to hear Gordon seek help. If anything, Hawkins was relieved.
“I wasn’t stunned,” Hawkins said. “I had lost a sister this summer to a heroin overdose. She had been clean for two to three years, doing an incredible job. Talked to her regularly, but the one relapse cost her her life. It was something I didn’t see coming and it kind of opens your eyes up to what addiction is like.
“It’s not a black-and-white situation. It’s not cut and dry and it’s important for Josh to take this step and try and figure it out. It’s a hard road and he understands that. But football isn’t important right now.”
Gordon, who had been attending meetings and working out with trainers during his 4-game suspension, was slated to formally return to the team on Monday for practice and be eligible for next Sunday’s game against the Patriots.
Gordon’s talent is unmatched and the thought of what he could add to the Browns offense is tantalizing to think about but Hawkins stressed none of that matters.
“I love football as much as anybody else and Josh is one of the best talents, up there with the best talent that I’ve ever seen up close and personal with a receiver, and I played with an extremely good one over in Cincinnati, and Josh has all the physical tools to be every bit of that, but it’s still secondary,” Hawkins said. “Him being a good receiver isn’t going to save his life 20 years from now. Him coming back to help the Cleveland Browns in 2016 isn’t going to help him in 2025 if he’s still dealing with these same issues, so I’m sincere in [saying] what he’s doing is important.”
As for Jackson, he is trying to focus his energy and attention to his team and the remaining 13 games on the schedule.
“My goal is to make sure that we take care of the players that are here and the players that are practicing and working,” Jackson said. “I care about everybody. I think that is the seat I sit in, but at the same time, he is not here. That is why we wished him well and want the best for him. I think the most important thing I can do is make sure that our football team that are here, the guys that are practicing, the guys that are going to play, the guys that are in the meeting room and working hard to get ready for a game is that our focus and our attention to detail is right. That is my main concern.
“I think what we need to do is just close that chapter right now. He is doing what he needs to do. We need to do what we need to do, which is continue to move forward.”