Josh Gordon Conditionally Reinstated by NFL; Can Practice with Browns on Nov. 20

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2017

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) after a touchdown reception against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the secondquarter of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Jason Behnken/Associated Press

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reinstated Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon on a conditional basis, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.

Per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, he can begin practicing with the team on Nov. 20 and is allowed to be activated on Nov. 27 following the team's Week 12 game. He is permitted to attend meetings immediately.

Raymond Summerlin of Rotoworld provided the full statement from the NFL:

Browns executive vice president Sashi Brown released a statement on the news, via Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network:

"We've been informed of the league's decision to reinstate Josh. The personal well-being of all our players is of the utmost importance to us. We respect and commend Josh for taking the steps necessary to have the opportunity to return to the league. Josh will be in our building in the coming days and we look forward to having him back and sitting with him to discuss his future on our team."

Gordon hasn't stepped on an NFL field since catching four passes for 45 yards in the Browns' 17-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 21, 2014.

The NFL suspended Gordon indefinitely in February 2015 after he violated the league's substance abuse policy. The suspension was to last at least the entire 2015 season, with the 2013 All-Pro eligible to apply for reinstatement when the year officially ended.

Gordon applied in January 2016, and Goodell reinstated him on a conditional basis in July 2016. Goodell also suspended Gordon for the first four games of the 2016 season.

With one more game remaining in his suspension, Gordon voluntarily entered a treatment facility in September 2016 and subsequently received another indefinite suspension. Not only did some wonder whether Gordon's Browns career was over, but others also questioned whether he'd ever play in the NFL again.

The NFL denied Gordon's petition for reinstatement in May, but Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot reported he'd have another opportunity to apply during the fall. Gordon entered rehab again in June for a 90-day program to help his case for reinstatement.

Speaking at a fan forum in August, Goodell said Gordon's reinstatement was "not under active consideration to my knowledge," per ESPN.com's Pat McManamon.

"That's not something I handle on a daily basis," Goodell said. "He has entered into the program. He has, obviously, confidentiality and privacy issues that we always respect. But when a decision is made on his reinstatement one way or the other, we make that clear to the clubs and, obviously, publicly."

The excitement about Gordon's prospective return is understandable. In his first two years, he had 137 receptions for 2,451 yards and 14 touchdowns. He led the NFL in receiving yards (1,646) in 2013 despite the Browns cycling through three different quarterbacks (Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell).

However, whether Gordon can still be that player will only be answered when he gets back to game action. While he's still only 26, three years is a long time to be out of the NFL.

The fact fans can talk about Gordon playing again still represents a positive development, and earning his conditional reinstatement is a big step toward his comeback.

Related

    Latest Buzz Around Every Team as Camp Nears

    Cleveland Browns logo
    Cleveland Browns

    Latest Buzz Around Every Team as Camp Nears

    Kristopher Knox
    via Bleacher Report

    NFL's Most Underrated Teams Entering Camp

    NFL logo
    NFL

    NFL's Most Underrated Teams Entering Camp

    Mike Tanier
    via Bleacher Report

    Is It Time for the Future in Baltimore?

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Is It Time for the Future in Baltimore?

    Doug Farrar
    via Bleacher Report

    Rodgers Moving on from Anthony Barr Hit

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Rodgers Moving on from Anthony Barr Hit

    Mike Florio
    via ProFootballTalk