BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – After nearly 3 years, Josh Gordon is ready to get back to what he loves most: playing football.
“[I’m] excited as ever, ready to go,” Gordon said Thursday. “I really can’t wait.”
Gordon was officially activated Thursday from the Commissioner’s Exempt list and defensive back Justin Currie was waived to make room.
Gordon has missed the Browns’ last 44 regular season games due to suspensions for violating the NFL’s policies on substances of abuse but he is cleared to finally play for the first time Since Dec. 21, 2014 Sunday in Los Angeles against the Chargers.
“Sky’s the limit,” Gordon said. “I feel I’m in great shape and I think I can help out there and try to make a play to put us in a position to win.”
Browns head coach Hue Jackson plans to start him.
“Am I comfortable saying that? Heck yeah. Are you kidding me? Yeah, he is going to start. Right away,” Jackson said as he could barely control his excitement Thursday when talking about about getting No. 12 on the field.
Jackson has no plans to hold Gordon back or ease him into things either.
“Let it rip,” Jackson said. “Pitch count? With this guy? No, it has been what? Three years? I want three years of that pitch count back out there right now.”
With the Browns 0-11 for a second straight year and the franchise having lost 26 of 27 games, all eyes seem to be on Gordon to provide the team with a massive lift. It seems like a lot of pressure for a player who has had to take such a long road back to Cleveland and the NFL.
“I don;t really feel any pressure that’s been put on me,” Gordon said. “I haven’t gotten that from anybody. More than anything, I’m just excited. I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had doing this, just playing ball ad the love of it.”
Gordon, who hasn’t played a full season of football since his rookie campaign in 2012 after the Browns used a second-round pick to select him in the supplemental draft, opened up about his troubled past in a 13-minute documentary by UNINTERRUPTED and interviews with GQ magazine and Sports Illustrated’s MMQB.com.
He has no regrets about telling his story either.
“I just felt like using my platform, let my voice be heard and let people have a window into my life and get a full image of what I’ve gone through and what I’ve lived,” Gordon said.
Gordon tried to avoid answering specific questions related to the most recent story published by SI/MMQB.com on Tuesday in which he admitted to being a gangbanger, stealing cars and making $10,000 a month selling marijuana.
“It was supposed to be insight into my life,” Gordon said. “How ever the story was written, I can’t control that. But it’s out there for people to read and take in what they take in from it.
“From my standpoint now, I’m here to win football games and be the best receiver I can be.”
Gordon was suspended for the first 2 games of the 2013 season because of a failed drug test but he still went on to lead the league in receiving yardage and be named a Pro Bowler despite playing in just 14 games.
In 2014 he missed the first 10 games of the season because of another substance abuse-related suspension and he was suspended for the final game for violating team rules, to which he confessed in a documentary done by UNINTERRUPTED was a result of more substance abuse.
After failing a test for alcohol use as a result of taking a trip to Las Vegas with a few teammates and coaches in January, 2015, Gordon was indefinitely banned by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for the 2015 campaign.
After being hit with another 4-game suspension to start the 2016 season, Gordon participated in training camp and played in the third preseason game but on the day he was set to return in Week 5, he left the team and checked himself into rehab.
Gordon’s bid for reinstatement in March of this year was denied before Goodell conditionally reinstated him on Nov. 1 following another lengthy stay in rehab.
That’s 54 games out of the last 59 Gordon’s been unavailable but he views his return as the ultimate comeback.
“[It’s] a perseverance story,” Gordon said. “A guy that was able to bounce back. Overcoming. Defying the odds. The underdog story. I think that it’s something that sells hope for people.”
Browns fans could use a little hope these days.