Gordon announced suddenly on Thursday he was stepping away from the Patriots to focus on his mental health. It wasn’t voluntary.
After Gordon’s announcement, NFL Media’s Tom Pelisero reported that the wideout was facing an indefinite ban. The NFL confirmed that hours later, saying in a statement, “Effective today, Josh Gordon has been returned to the Reserve/Commissioner Suspended list indefinitely for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement under the Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.”
It looked for a while like Gordon, who has immense talent but hasn’t been able to shake the demons that have kept him off the field for various suspensions due to substance abuse, had found a positive home with the Patriots. Now he faces many more questions, as do the Patriots as they head into the playoffs.
Josh Gordon announces he’s stepping away ‘for a bit’
Gordon made no mention of the suspension when he said he was stepping away to focus on his mental health, saying he was doing so with the blessing of the Patriots, including coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft.
The Patriots had their own statement shortly after:
Statement from the New England Patriots on Josh Gordon: pic.twitter.com/tXmXrXVrJL
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 20, 2018
Gordon was available to the Patriots because the Cleveland Browns ran out of patience with him earlier this season. The Browns sent Gordon to the Patriots for a fifth-round pick. He had 720 yards and three touchdowns for the Patriots and had emerged as a dangerous target for Tom Brady.
With the news of the suspension looming, his NFL future is again up in the air.
Patriots lose key offensive player before playoffs
Anyone who has followed Gordon’s career knows that suspensions have overshadowed everything else. From 2013, when he led the NFL in receiving yards, through 2017 he played in only 10 games with the Browns due to multiple suspensions.
The Patriots seemed to have found a difference-making receiver for cheap in a trade, but there was a reason a receiver of Gordon’s talent didn’t cost more.
The Patriots’ offense has been good but not great, and that was with Gordon most of the season. New England currently is the No. 3 seed in the AFC behind Kansas City and Houston, and hasn’t been a great road team this season. Their path to the Super Bowl got tougher.
There are more important things than football, like the 27-year-old Gordon getting his life on track. But the news on Thursday has a ripple affect for the Patriots, too.
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