Josh Gordon Opens Up About His NFL Comeback Plans

Cleveland Browns wide receiver talks addiction, rehab, and beating his demons.

Josh Gordon
Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns takes off his helmet during training camp on August 15, 2016 at the Cleveland Browns training complex in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
By Cory Gunkel / November 7, 2017 11:16 am

Josh Gordon has the ignominious distinction of having been suspended from the NFL for more games than he’s actually played. Yet when he’s on the field, the Cleveland Browns wide receiver is a force to be reckoned with.

Gordon led the league with 1,646 receiving yards in 2014 despite missing two games, and is regularly the most difficult receiver to cover on the field when fighting past the coverage of opposing cornerbacks. But the Baylor star struggled with another type of battle off the field, his horrifying addiction that led to him getting drunk or high before nearly every game he played in college and that led to his lengthy suspensions from the NFL.

“Initially it started for me, [because of] a lot of childhood and adolescent trauma-based fear. I was using in my childhood,” Gordon told GQ. “That environment brought me into that a lot sooner than a normal—whatever normal is—kid should be brought into that, to be able to make a decision on their own of what to do. I didn’t want to feel anxiety, I didn’t want to feel fear. I didn’t plan on living to 18 (years old). Day-to-day life, what’s gonna happen next? So you self-medicate with Xanax, with marijuana, codeine—to help numb those nerves so you can just function every day. That became the norm from middle school to high school. So by the time I got into my 20s, I was on an accelerated pace.”

Gordon finally received help, with multiple rehabiliation trips—his lastest, according to him, being the most helpful as he continually works to better himself.

“The past times, every time I would try to stop, it would be for the wrong reason. It’d be a publicity stunt; it’d be for somebody else; it’d be for the coach, or whomever thought it was in my best interest to try to do that,” Gordon explained. “Last time, I wanted to do it to save my career. Just for the job. [Now] I have the positive reinforcement and motivation of having a daughter and stuff like that, but kids can’t save you in that aspect. Only thing saving me at this point and time, and the difference between now and then, is that I’m doing it for myself.”

Gordon was conditionally reinstated by the NFL last week, and is looking to prove himself now both as a recovering addict and as a football player. His honesty and openess about his struggles is something to applaud, and we can only hope Gordon continues down a path to recovery.