Josh Gordon’s Tumultous Tenure in Cleveland: A Timeline

What if Josh Gordon had caught a few hundred less yards in 2013? Perhaps we wouldn’t view him as some form of superhero who’s trouble has inconvenienced our fantasy prospects. Perhaps the Browns would have released him years ago instead of offering him bone after bone until Saturday night’s final straw. Not only was Gordon enabled but the Browns’ blind loyalty clogged up one sliver of their rebuilding efforts in the process. Perhaps we would first think about the obvious: Gordon needs seriously help. Very serious help. Whatever efforts he’s made in the past haven’t worked enough to keep him on solid footing, nor has the dangling carrot of the NFL and its sideshow.

I’m not suggesting the NFL turns its back on Gordon. They won’t. Teams will salivate at his talent and probably start offering trades despite reports that Gordon showed up late to the facility Saturday and “wasn’t himself,” a sign he could be using again.

A look at Gordon’s disturbing timeline in Cleveland illustrates how this move should have happened years ago despite his magical 2013 season and puts the urgency of his need for help into perspective.

June 12, 2012: Browns select Josh Gordon in the second round of the supplemental draft

Cleveland takes a massive, almost unheard of risk by giving up its second round pick in the following year’s NFL draft to add the troubled ex-Baylor star. Gordon has not played a down of competitive football since December 2010 after being arrested for falling asleep at a Taco Bell with marijuana in his car. Baylor suspended Gordon indefinitely, and it was later revealed that he failed a drug test.

2012 NFL Season: Gordon has a productive rookie season in Cleveland. He plays in all 16 games and ends the season with 50 catches, five touchdowns and 805 receiving yards.  He is largely considered a breakout candidate for 2013

June 7th, 2013: The NFL announced it is suspending Gordon for two games for violating the substance abuse policy.  Gordon claimed the substance, codeine, was an ingredient in his strep throat medication and therefore ingested unintentionally.

2013 NFL Season: Gordon lights the league on fire upon his return from suspension. He puts on a show almost every week as an explosive deep threat, even as defensive coordinators add help to cover him Despite missing two games, Gordon’s 1646 yards receiving yards, aided by back-to-back 200+ yard efforts, makes him tops in the league. He is named a first-team All Pro and Pro Bowl starter.

May 2014: Outside the Lines reports that Gordon will be suspended for the entire 2014 season for another failed drug test. In August the league conforms that Gordon will indeed be suspended for the season after his appeal was unsuccessful.

July 7th 2014: Gordon is arrested and charged with DWI after driving while impaired in Raleigh, North Carolina.

September 19th, 2014: Gordon’s suspension for his failed drug test is cut to 10 games due to the NFL’s new drug policy which states a ban doesn’t come until the fifth failed test. Gordon’s latest is his fourth.

2014 NFL Season: Gordon is immediately inserted into the starting lineup in Week 11 and returns to his old ways with eight catches for 120 yards.  But he is largely irrelevant in the four games that follow, only topping 50 yards once.

December 27th, 2014: Gordon is suspended by the Browns for their Week 17 game after violating team rules. Gordon, along with Johnny Manziel, missed the team’s walkthrough on Saturday.

February 3rd, 2015: The NFL announces it is suspending Gordon for the 2015 season after he violated the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. The league found alcohol in Gordon’s bloodstream, a substance for which is tested because of his previous DUI. Then Browns head coach Pettine had called this offseason “squarely at a crossroads for us” in regards to Gordon.

July 25th,2016: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell conditionally reinstates Gordon, though imposes a four-game suspension to start the season so Gordon can prove he can stay sober.

September 22nd, 2016: There’s a warrant out for Gordon’s arrest for failing to comply with a paternity test. He finally submits a DNA test and the results confirm he is the father to a one-year-old girl.

September 29th 2016: Scheduled to return from suspension, Gordon instead announces he is entering an inpatient rehab facility.

October 4th, 2016: Goodell announces that Gordon is back on indefinite leave.

May 11th, 2017: The NFL denies Gordon’s application for reinstatement, despite his business manager claiming Gordon is in “the best place mentally.”

November 1st, 2017: Goodell conditionally reinstates Gordon again. ” [Josh’s] commitment to sobriety and to reaching his goals in football and beyond will determine his success. It ultimately is up to Josh,” says Goodell in a statement.

December 3rd, 2017: Gordon plays in his first game since 2014. He is targeted 11 times and finishes with 85 yards. He will play in the team’s remaining four games.

July 20th, 2018: A Cuyahoga County judge issues a temporary restraining order requiring Gordon to make child support payments which he neglected to do through his suspensions.

July 23rd, 2018: Gordon announces that he will miss the start of Browns training camp as part of his “overall health plan.” Browns GM John Dorsey pledges his support.

August 18th, 2018: Gordon returns.

September 9th, 2018: Gordon has one catch for 17 yards and a touchdown in Cleveland’s opening week tie with the Steelers.

September 15th, 2018: Browns decide to trade or release Gordon after he showed up late to the facility late and was flagged for possible substance use.