Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: Josh Gordon Will Be Back, but Won't Be Trusted

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Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: Josh Gordon Will Be Back, but Won't Be Trusted
David Richard/AP Images

1. The Gordon situation

Toward the middle of last season, Josh Gordon spoke to a small group of his Cleveland Browns teammates in the team's locker room about his future. One player, who asked not to be identified, recalled his words.

"I want to promise you guys that I won't be in trouble again," Gordon told them. 

The players believed Gordon. They knew of his past issues and felt he was a troubled man but a good man. They were encouraged. When Gordon finished the season with 87 catches for nine touchdowns and over 1,600 yards—a year that included him becoming the first player in league history to generate consecutive 200-yard receiving games—Gordon's teammates thought he would soon change everything for the better.

Then came the reported drug test failure for marijuana that could potentially lead to Gordon being banned for the entire 2014 season. Then came the recent DWI arrest. It leaves Browns players to remember that scene some months ago and feel a sense of both sympathy and anger.

They realize Gordon is sick. They want him to get better. They like him. But some of them, clearly, also now want nothing to do with him.

To be clear, the sense I get from those in that locker room is that players sympathize with Gordon—but feel he can no longer be on the team, because they don't believe he will change his life. They hope Gordon does. They just aren't sure he can.

Overall, there is a great feeling of betrayal.

That is the emotional part of this. There is also a purely football aspect, and it's clear that Gordon will play again, either in Cleveland, or someplace else in the NFL.

I cannot find a single team or league official who believes that Gordon will not play again. Everyone believes he will. The reasons are simple and twofold: Gordon is unbelievably talented, and he's just 23 years old.

One general manager put it this way: Gordon will go to rehab, be out of football for an extended period of time, go on Oprah to declare his sobriety (or do a Tom Rinaldi interview), and teams will bid for him again.

Or, the Browns will simply hold onto his rights and all will declare Gordon is a new man.

The punishment of Gordon is moving along almost two tracks. The alleged failure of the marijuana tests fall under the drug testing policy. The alleged DWI actually comes under Roger Goodell's disciplinary authority. 

What is likely to happen, according to a number of team, league and union sources, is that some sort of deal will be worked out between Gordon and the NFL in which a singular punishment is given for the alleged failed drug tests and alleged DWI. It may not be a full season, I'm told. But the number of games Gordon will be suspended is still a mystery.

Even if Gordon is suspended a full season, he'd still eventually be back. If he is gone a year, or thereabouts, he'd only be 24 upon being reinstated. That is still ridiculously young. Gordon would still be a beast, and there would be teams, including the Browns, lining up to sign him.

We've seen this before. Michael Vick's organization attached electrodes to dog's gonads; he served prison time, and was invited back. Yes, Gordon will be back.

But if it's with the Browns, they will have to deal with players who will not trust him.

Hard to blame them. 

 

2. Gordon-Irsay double standard

One last thing on Gordon. When Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested for DWI and was found with drugs in his car (pleaded not guilty to charges on June 18), he received a great deal of sympathy. It was all over social media. My Twitter feed erupted with well wishes for Irsay. Gordon's arrest was met with scorn. My Twitter erupted with people calling Gordon a dumbass.

Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

The same thing happened with Irsay and Colts player LaVon Brazill, who was suspended for at least a year due to failed tests for marijuana.

So you have this simple equation. One man, Irsay, has fought alcohol and drug issues for some time. He gets sympathy. Two others, Gordon and Brazill, have also fought substance abuse issues for some time, and they are met with smirks and anger. The Indianapolis Star's Bob Kravitz did an excellent job of breaking things down. So did ESPN.com's Mike Wells.

There are a number of issues here, many of which revolve around race and class. There is also the fact that many fans see owners as flawless and players as flawed, not realizing that owners are like all human beings. They make mistakes. Extreme wealth doesn't immunize them from the ugly aspects of human nature.

 

3. Kluwe decision

I continue to hear it's coming soon. To recap, Chris Kluwe, while punter for the Minnesota Vikings, alleged that special teams assistant coach Mike Priefer made homophobic remarks to him after he started to speak in favor of gay marriage. Kluwe also claims his advocacy for gay rights led to the Vikings' decision to release him.

Priefer denied the claims and the team launched an investigation that has lasted months. That investigation, I'm told, is finally coming to a close. It's possible an announcement comes this week.

 

4. Multi-city NFL draft?

This tweet from veteran NFL writer Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram certainly raised some eyebrows, and from what I hear there is a possibility the draft could indeed be split between two cities—where the first round is in one city and the remaining days are in another. One league official said all options are on the table when it comes to the draft.

What's clear is the NFL knows how popular the draft is and wants to maximize its popularity. I wouldn't be shocked if one day the league broke the draft up between three cities: say first round in Los Angeles, second round in Chicago and the remainder of the draft in Washington.

 

5. Washington flak resigns

I'm not sure what the blogger-turned-PR guy hired to protect the racist nickname of the Washington football team was thinking. He had to know that his past views, his past social media postings, would become an issue. Did he think no one would notice? I thought the Oneida Nation's response was smart and thoughtful.

 

6. Seahawk dynasty? 

There were three things I constantly heard over the past few weeks of the offseason from players, coaches and front-office personnel: Soccer talk; what's LeBron going to do?; and the Seahawks are building a dynasty.

The last one I hear repeatedly. I mean, over and over. A significant number of people in the league believe the Seahawks have the best chance to become the latest NFL dynasty since the Patriots. The main reasons I hear are depth and one of the best front offices in football. Not to mention Pete Carroll.

I spoke informally with a total of six players, front-office execs and assistant coaches, and all said the Seahawks are the next dynasty.

Dynasties are almost impossible to build in today's salary cap era. The system is designed to break teams apart and create competitive balance. Yet if any franchise could do it, and is set up to do it, it's Seattle.

 

7. Strahan's post-career success not a shock

This cover photo in many ways defines Michael Strahan. Handsome, friendly and I'd add brilliant. I've known Strahan since he entered the NFL in 1993, and there was always a star quality to the Hall of Famer. You knew Strahan was in for something big. 

His stardom is important because it shows the potential for what former players can do. So much of the news with ex-players has been horrific and sad—CTE, bankruptcy and more. Strahan has been the opposite. He's been a beacon.

 

8. Memory lapse

I really respect and like New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch a great deal, but when he tells TMZ that Johnny Manziel "really doesn't fit the profile, historically, of New York Giants football players," Tisch is leaving out, um, a pretty significant name: Lawrence Taylor. 

 

9. Best football letter to editor ever

Absolutely fantastic. And it's over 100 years old.


10. MVP odds

Odds Shark shared the early NFL MVP odds. The top five:

Player Odds
Peyton Manning 3-1
Drew Brees 11-2
Aaron Rodgers 15-2
Tom Brady 9-1
Andrew Luck 16-1

Odds Shark

And the last five listed:

Player Odds
Alfred Morris 150-1
C.J. Spiller 150-1
Antonio Brown 150-1
DeMarco Murray 200-1
Frank Gore 200-1

Odds Shark

 

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.

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