Straight route: Browns’ Gordon clean, driven in comeback
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Josh Gordon’s new route through life, a straight and sober one, is rewarding him every day.
Given another chance to revive an NFL career he nearly threw away due to addiction, Gordon is embracing moments he once ignored.
“Right now for me it’s a bunch of the small victories day to day, just being able to come to work,” the Browns wide receiver said Tuesday while reflecting on his dark past. “Like the little, little things. Having some structure in my life.”
Gordon is counting his blessings — football, fatherhood and fame — as the former Pro Bowler, who erupted on the league in 2012, continues a twisted comeback that looked hopeless at some many junctures over the past few years.
Now 27, Gordon, who revealed following his most recent drug suspension last season that he had wandered streets in Florida in search of his next fix, is living in the moment. He’s savoring small victories.
“To me, it’s just like getting up and not having to worry about whether or not you have some type of security or a place to stay,” he said.
“Spending time with my daughter. “I didn’t have much time, didn’t get to spend any time with my family like that in the past. Being there with friends. Working toward the future. Those are things I look forward to doing, and I take pride in and joy in.
“Just coming to work. Being able to talk to guys, see guys’ expressions, interact with them ... a lot of little things. I take a lot of joy in that.”
Gordon has found inner peace. The Browns are hoping he can keep it.
Because of his off-field issues, Gordon has played in just 10 games since 2013. He returned for Cleveland’s final five games last season, and showed some of the flashes that helped him lead the league in yards receiving as a rookie in 2012.
The talent has always been there.
Sadly, so has the trouble.
But Gordon believes he’s changed personally, and he’s now prepared to help the Browns bounce back from a 0-16 season and perhaps shock the league in 2018.
Gordon feels strongly about his team, which acquired three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry and quarterback Tyrod Taylor in offseason trades.
“I think we’re the best receiving corps in the league, in my opinion, already just based off of talent alone,” Gordon said. “So, you put in the playbook and some guys that are hungry enough to go do it, and hopefully, we go out there and show and prove that. We’re not short on talent at the wide receiver position at all.”
“He ain’t lyin’,” said Landry, who caught 400 passes and 22 touchdowns during three seasons in Miami. “I think the capability of what we all can do is endless.”
Gordon also feels Taylor, who led Buffalo to the playoffs last season, and No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield are the best quarterbacks he’s had in Cleveland.
“By far,” Gordon said. “It’s going to be an interesting thing to watch the quarterback battle go on, but you’ve got a proven guy in Tyrod. We’ve got a young talented guy in Baker. I don’t see how it can go wrong, really. ... I don’t know a quarterback that works harder than Tyrod. He’s definitely set the bar. And then Baker, he’s right behind the guy and looking up to a guy that can show him the exact things you need to do to be a professional quarterback in this league. So from a quarterback standpoint, we’re really set. We’re really good.”
Cleveland’s success will also hinge on Gordon staying available.
He said this is the first time he’s participated in the team’s complete offseason program, and as he nears the start of another new season and another shot at redemption, his goals have shifted.
“More than anything, I really just want to win,” he said. “Whatever it takes for me to get some wins and do my part where I leave no doubt, no question in anybody’s mind that Josh did everything he could do to try and get us a win, then I can walk away with whatever the stat line is. More than anything, I’d rather be a winner.”
To this point, Gordon has harnessed his demons.
He’s learned not to run tomorrow’s race.
“To me it’s just one day at a time,” Gordon said. “You know, you got today and that’s all we’re really given. The next day, if I’m blessed with the opportunity to wake up, I’ll try to attack it with the same mentality and mindset. And have the same perseverance, same set of goals and try to stick to that day by day.”