Browns, fans waiting on Gordon decision


Slightly more than two years ago, Josh Gordon spoke humbly about the chance he was being given by the Browns to play in the NFL.

Since then the talented but mysterious receiver has done nothing but hold the Browns hostage with life choices that have bordered on ridiculous.

Now everyone in the organization waits for final word on Gordon’s appeal of a possible year-long suspension for a fourth violation of the NFL’s drug policy. Word surfaced last May that Gordon had tested positive for marijuana during one of numerous urine tests required for players in Stage 3 of the punitive system. The hearing took place in lengthy installments last Friday and continued Monday, with Gordon’s case being presented by attorney Maurice Suh, who negotiated a successful appeal of a suspension given to Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman last year.

It shouldn’t be this way. Not with the opportunity Gordon was given by the NFL after a history of drug-related problems at Baylor and the University of Utah. He played just two seasons at Baylor before being dismissed from the program for off-the-field issues. He transferred to Utah but never played a down.

The NFL spread out the red carpet for Gordon when he was made available in a supplemental draft in June of 2012. The receiver-needy Browns jumped at the opportunity to relinquish a second-round pick in the 2013 draft for his promising skills.

That’s where this story should have turned for the better. Gordon should have been true to his words shortly after the draft and followed a path free from the demons that had been dragging him down.

Instead he was suspended the first two games of last season after testing positive for codeine. The suspension placed him in Stage 3, which meant one more failed test and he was a goner for one season.

Recent reports detailed as many as 70 negative tests for Gordon in recent months. Then came a positive test in which he tested barely above the NFL’s allowable limit.

Suh is reportedly claiming that Gordon was the victim of second-hand smoke. Suh has also undoubtedly noted that a second bottle from the same sample tested slightly below the limit of 15 nanograms per milliliter.

Gordon could have avoided this prolonged hassle and saved the organization – teammates and all – plenty of headaches if he had made better choices in selecting people with whom to associate. If the appeal is turned down, Gordon will make life better for a receiver who earns a roster spot he wouldn’t have secured with Gordon on the roster, but it won’t make things easier for the team as a whole.

The need for Gordon’s big-play skills is obvious. When he’s on the practice field, there’s a feeling that things are going to be OK.

“When Josh is out there, it’s like LeBron (James) came back,” cornerback Joe Haden said. “He’s a big, big part of our offense and a really, really special player.”

Few people are probably more anxious to put the Gordon saga in the past than coach Mike Pettine. He’s been patient when asked questions about Gordon, but he must be ready to move on with or without Gordon.

Pettine had Gordon on the field for most of Monday’s practice. Gordon left during a special teams drill to participate in the appeal via phone.

“We’ve been patient so far,” Pettine said. “We’ve waited this long, so hopefully a resolution is coming soon.”

Those sentiments are shared by more than just Pettine.