BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – When Josh Gordon reports to the Browns’ training facility on Tuesday, he’ll walk in the door with a clean slate.
Head coach Hue Jackson is prepared to welcome the troubled receiver back with open arms after Gordon was conditionally reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last Wednesday.
“I want to see exactly where Josh is,” Jackson said Monday. “We have talked on the phone, but we have not delved into the past. I think what we all have to do is respect his privacy.”
Jackson is pulling for Gordon to not only to return to the Browns, but remain on his path to rehabilitation.
“I do because he is a guy that has an opportunity to move forward in his life,” Jackson said. “Do we want to have all the other things that come with it? I think hopefully that is behind him. We don’t – let’s just be honest – we don’t want those things, but as we move forward, if he can do the things that we do as football team members and conduct himself the right way in the community and handle those things, Josh Gordon is welcome back here.”
Last year Jackson got a glimpse of Gordon during training camp and in the third preseason game at Tampa Bay but on the day Gordon was set to return from a 4-game suspension in early October he checked himself into rehab amid rumors of another failed test, which was a surprise to Jackson.
“I was because that was not the player that I saw and got to know, but those things happen,” Jackson said. “Again, we are talking about a very serious problem. Those things do exist. We know they exist not just for football teams, they exist throughout the world so it is an issue.”
Monday afternoon in an interview published by GQ, Gordon admitted that he either drank or used drugs prior to games dating back to his college days but Jackson will not use any of Gordon’s comments in recent interviews or anything else that has happened in the past against him moving forward.
“Obviously, he put a lot of things out there. I have not seen all of this,” Jackson said. “That is about the past. If it is about the present, then I think that is a different story for everybody, but I think we have to let him get out what he feels like he needs to get out. I am sure this is part of his rehabilitation, as well, to be able to say certain things that you have done. I think that is kind of good because you have to put it behind you as fast as you can.”
Gordon, who has served a total of 53 games in suspensions since 2013, is allowed to attend team meetings and work out by himself immediately.
As long as Gordon fulfills the requirements outlined by Goodell, which includes clinical compliance, Gordon can begin practicing with the Browns on Nov. 20 and he can be active on game day as early as Dec. 3 at Los Angeles against the Chargers.
While Jackson is supportive of Gordon’s efforts personally and professionally, he won’t tolerate missteps going forward.
“We want guys who want to be good players, guys who want to contribute and be great teammates and guys who want to do great in the community,” Jackson said. “I think you guys know me, I’m not for any of that shenanigans stuff. We are not going to have that. I think Josh knows that. I think if Josh is back here, he is going to conform and do the things that we need him to do to be a contributing member of this football team.”