CLEVELAND (AP) — Revealing he was scared for his life because of another drug relapse, suspended Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is making his case to be reinstated by the NFL.
Gordon detailed years of substance use, the depths of his addiction and his determination to turn his life around during a 13-minute video released Tuesday on the website Uninterrupted.
The former All-Pro who led the league in yards receiving in 2013 was indefinitely suspended by Commissioner Roger Goodell two years ago following another violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy and missed Cleveland’s last 38 games.
He’s had numerous stints in rehab — most of which he said he didn’t take seriously — and the 26-year-old Gordon can re-apply to the league this fall.
In the meantime, Gordon, who was interviewed during a recent three-day leave from the Florida Recovery Center after 70 days in the facility, said he’s changed.
“Honestly the whole experience has been humbling and it’s humbling every day. Brutally so,” Gordon said. “A dose of reality for sure, when you’re put in a position to be constricted socially, financially, just all resources exhausted, the ego is diminished to just about nil. The only thing I know I have to go off of is my faith, family and my ability with football.”
A league spokesman did not immediately respond to an inquiry on Gordon’s status.
Gordon said he’s had several candid conversations with Goodell, who will determine his professional future.
“He gets a bad rap, because people don’t understand him and they don’t know him,” Gordon said. “But for me, he’s a great guy. He’s a great man, he’s been a friend to me. He’s been a mentor to me in a way in which he may not even understand.”
Gordon said his drug use has been enabled by coaches and teachers dating back to college “just because of my ability.”
“I’ve used alcohol many, many occasions,” he said. “Xanax, many occasions. Cocaine, several occasions. Marijuana, most of my life. Codeine cough syrup, promethazine, very prevalent from where I’m from. It’s what I grew up using.”
After he got arrested for marijuana possession at Baylor, one of Gordon’s coaches provided him with “bottles of detox” to helped him pass drug tests, he said.
After his first suspension as a pro, Gordon entered rehab but acknowledged it was simply a publicity stunt to pacify the media and fans.
“I was there for 14, 15 days. It was a joke,” he said. “It was pretty much a vacation. I had a bunch of good, gourmet meals and took a little break and then got right back to work and then led the league in receiving yards.”
Gordon finished with 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013.
He was suspended for 10 games in 2014 following a DUI arrest. When he returned, Gordon recalled, he missed a team meeting before the season finale and when he got to the airport, he was told by then-general manager Ray Farmer that he wasn’t going with the Browns to Baltimore.
“I was watching the plane go off,” Gordon said. “I was like: ‘Well, F it. Let’s go home. Let’s party.'”
Gordon was suspended for all of 2015, when he fell into a disturbingly dark place. He wandered the streets of Gainesville, Florida, looking for drugs.
“I just began to have a flashback and remembered all the negative things that have happened in my life that transpired,” he said. “And then just something clicked in my head, it’s like, ‘Man, you did it again, you’re willing to throw away everything you ever work hard for, everything you ever had out of life.’
“It’s so strange, but I just had a desire to stop, I had the desire to get help, invest myself 100 percent into whatever was going to help save my life.”
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