Hue Jackson Says Josh Gordon Had 'Disease,' Earned the Right to Be with Browns

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2017

Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson gestures during a press conference after an NFL football game against Minnesota Vikings at Twickenham Stadium in London, Sunday Oct. 29, 2017. Minnesota Vikings won the match 33-16. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Tim Ireland/Associated Press

Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson has had a change of heart in regards to Josh Gordon.

Jackson previously said the team had moved on from the receiver after several failed drug tests, but the coach acknowledged Wednesday he initially lacked understanding of Gordon's issues, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com:

"Let's be honest, what this young man's dealt with is a disease. All right? That's what it is. It happens and it affects a lot of people in this world. So I had to first educate myself and understand what he was going through, what he was dealing with. I hadn't had a lot exposure to him, other than what I knew. And then once I understood it better and watched him earn the right to be back in this building."

Gordon returned to practice Wednesday after being reinstated by the league, per Fox8 Cleveland.

The 26-year-old hasn't appeared in an NFL game since 2014 and last practiced with the Browns during the 2016 preseason.

When Gordon checked himself into rehab at the start of last season, Jackson, who was then in his first year with Cleveland, appeared ready to end any chance of Gordon playing with the team again.

"We're moving on," he said at the time, per Cabot. "We need to close that chapter right now."

However, the receiver earned a conditional reinstatement that allowed him to attend team meetings before returning to practice this week. He will be allowed to play in games starting in Week 13.

"It’s like Christmas," Jackson said of Gordon on Monday, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. "I get to open a new toy. I know what’s in that box, but I just want to see how good it is. It’s exciting that he’ll be back out there."

Gordon is an immensely talented player who was a first-team All-Pro performer in one of his two full seasons in the league. He has averaged 78.7 yards in 35 career games to go with 14 total touchdowns.