Suspended Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon isn't eligible to play football in the NFL this year, but that isn't stopping the talented young star from trying to find other avenues to keep his skills sharp.
According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com, Gordon is looking into the possibility of playing in the Canadian Football League:
Josh Gordon is exploring the possibility of playing the rest of the year in the Canadian Football League, per sources. @ESPNNFL— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) August 28, 2014
In a separate report on ESPN.com, Mortensen detailed exactly what Gordon's plans for playing in the CFL and an NFL return in 2015 would entail:
Gordon's plans include having a dialogue with CFL officials on whether he would be eligible to play there and still return to the NFL in 2015 if he is reinstated by commissioner Roger Goodell, sources said. He would remain under the NFL's treatment program, which would include counseling and random drug testing.
Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk reports on the one CFL team that hold Gordon's rights:
Per league source, the Calgary Stampeders hold Josh Gordon's rights and want him badly.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 28, 2014
The news comes 24 hours after Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports 1 first reported Gordon's year-long ban has been upheld following an appeal:
BREAKING: Sources tell @FOXSports1 Browns WR Josh Gordon's one-year suspension has been upheld on appeal.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 27, 2014
There are a lot of things factoring into this decision that Gordon has to explore in order to make the move to Canada. First, as Albert Breer of the NFL Network noted, would the Browns allow him to play for another franchise?
As @mortreport said, Josh Gordon is looking at the idea of playing in the CFL in the fall. Browns would have to give him permission.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 28, 2014
Breer's NFL Network colleague Ian Rapoport reported that Gordon has, in fact, asked the Browns to let him play in the CFL, but the process to get him there is more complicated than a simple "OK" from the front office:
Suspended WR Josh Gordon has made a request to the #Browns to allow him to play in the CFL during his suspension, source says. However…— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 28, 2014
Texting with a CFL GM who tells me if Josh Gordon is under contract & suspended, rules don’t allow him to play in CFL. Only if he’s cut.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 28, 2014
ESPN.com also spoke to a CFL official on Gordon's eligibility to play in Canada:
A CFL official said that, under its rules, Gordon would not be eligible to play because teams are prohibited from signing a suspended player of any league who is under contract with his league.
As you can imagine, the Browns weren't exactly jumping at this chance. Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer reported the team isn't going to grant Gordon's request:
The CFL is halfway through its season, with Week 10 starting on Aug. 29. There are 20 weeks in the season, so there is room to welcome a new addition if the teams want to.
Gordon's rationale for wanting to play in Canada might be simply playing football, but Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated mentioned that all the problems the 23-year-old has had off the field makes a one-year suspension without the game dangerous:
For Gordon's sake, I hope the CFL plan works. A year off, with no real structure in place, might be trouble waiting to happen.— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) August 28, 2014
This is a situation where you can see what both sides are trying to do, and both sides are looking out for their own best interest. Gordon is a young wide receiver coming off a fantastic season on the field with 87 catches, 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns in 14 games.
The Browns understand the value Gordon has to their team on the field, even if his self-destructive nature off it prevents him from showing it in 2014. They want to protect their investment, while ensuring that they have him upon reinstatement in 2015.
Canada would provide Gordon with an outlet to not only keep his football skills in shape while waiting for his suspension to end, but to also serve as a distraction to keep him away from some of the extracurricular activities that have put him in hot water to begin with.
However, because of the way Gordon's contract is structured, the CFL isn't going to happen unless the Browns have a change of heart. This is a complicated situation that adds more layers with each passing day.
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