By Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, AFRO Sports Desk
If you’re a fan of just plain football talent and ability, then you like ex-Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. If you’re an avid rule-follower plus a football fan, then you probably love Gordon but just can’t break down the facts of how the supremely talented 6-foot-3, 225-lb wideout can’t shake a marijuana habit that’s completely derailed what should’ve been a Hall of Fame worthy career. Gordon is expected to be released by the Browns on Monday following the team’s road contest against the New Orleans Saints. In 2013, Gordon terrorized the AFC North Division and the rest of the NFL when he led the league in receiving yards with 1,646 but has only played in 11 games since then because of suspensions, rehabilitation and appeals. What’s next for Gordon? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley debate.
Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, in Cleveland. The Browns and the Steelers tied at 21-21. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Riley: Gordon announced on social media that he was looking for a new team and league sources suggest he’s open to play for the Dallas Cowboys or San Francisco 49ers. Despite whatever you think and claim you know about Gordon, he’s probably the most physically gifted receiver in the league and when he’s right mentally and physically, he can dominate the NFL. He’ll wind up on another team by the end of the week and if all the boxes are checked, he’ll dominate the rest of the season.
Green: It’s always been the question of ‘if’ with Gordon and history has proven he can’t come out on the right side of that question. The recurring drug use has been constantly and publicly noted. Whenever you don’t hear any bad news then his name pops up in rehab stories where he’s had to leave his team. You can never really get a handle on Gordon and what his motives are. NFL teams are way too fickle nowadays to deal with the off-the-field baggage especially when it’s not inching your team closer to a title. Look at New England and Pittsburgh for examples. The Steelers arguably have more talent than the Patriots, but media mentions and outside the field distractions routinely cripple their title hopes every year ;while New England lays low, focuses on the main thing and keeps going back to Bowl games every year. Gordon is great but his act has been played out. Any other contending team would’ve severed the paperwork on his deal years ago.
Riley: Talented teams take risks on guys all the time. New England took a flyer on Randy Moss at the lowest point in his NFL career, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Gordon could play again. Now granted, Moss’s issues at the time pale in comparison to the rap sheet on Gordon, but talent always wins out. As long as Gordon isn’t standing firm on topics concerning Black Lives Matter or any other activism moves then he should be good. As sad as it is to say, it’s true. There’s ‘ifs’ with every player whether we’re talking about ‘if’ a player can live up to his potential or ‘if’ a guy can stay healthy. Sports careers are always based on ifs. Yes, Gordon’s ‘if’ might be a little bit more questionable than others, but if he can manage himself internally then he’ll definitely play again, perhaps as soon as next week.
Green: Only an idiotic franchise would have the lack of willpower and guts to keep holding on to Gordon’s coattails and that one franchise just announced they’re prepared to release him. The NFL doesn’t allow you to do controlled substances and still maintain your position. Numerous players have found this out the hard way and had their careers ruined for it. No one is begging Gordon to put down the weed anymore or dedicate himself to his team. The league is too talented to keep hoping and wishing for guys to get it together. Cleveland’s announcement over the weekend is going to unleash some dark truths in the upcoming days that could very well close the book on Gordon’s football career. I hope it doesn’t, because he is definitely talented but his ship has sailed.