The Cleveland Browns have a problem on their hands and it is only getting worse. When they drafted Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft 2 years ago they were aware of his issues.
Now the NFL’s top receiver in 2013 is facing a potential one year suspension for breaking the leagues substance abuse policy and this past holiday weekend managed to get himself thrown into a Raleigh, North Carolina jail cell for a DWI charge.
Despite the issues, it makes absolutely no sense to release Gordon from the team. In all aspects of the situation, everyone comes out a loser if he is cut. Let me explain.
Gordon came to the Browns in the spring of 2012 having not played a down since late 2010. After being suspended indefinitely and eventually kicked off the team at Baylor by head coach Art Briles, Gordon attempted to transfer to Utah to continue his career. Unfortunately he didn’t file papers in a timely manner and was denied the ability to play in 2011, which forced his entrance into the NFL’s supplemental draft in the summer of 2012.
The Browns spent a second round pick on Gordon and it immediately paid off as his rookie 2012 season was solid, catching 50 balls for over 800 yards. In the offseason he was suspended by the NFL for the first two games of 2013 due to testing positive for codeine. The suspension came despite Gordon providing a prescription for strep throat from his doctor. Even with the two game suspension he still went on to lead the NFL in receiving with a spectacular breakout year catching 87 balls for 1646 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Then the news got really bad. Roughly one hour before the NFL draft on May 8th of this year, it was reported by ESPN and eventually the world of sports that Gordon had again failed a drug test and would be likely suspended for the entirety of the 2014 season. There is an appeal hearing and insiders say a there remains a slim possibility he doesn’t miss the entirety of 2014, but several of his teammates have told Cleveland media that they are prepared for him to miss the entire campaign.
As if the war machine wasn’t pounding hard enough for Gordon to be dismissed, Saturday morning’s DWI charge has brought out the hawks calling for his head to roll once again. I couldn’t disagree more.
Cutting Josh Gordon makes no sense for several reasons, let’s look at the “business” reasons first.
In the worst case scenario he has to sit for all of 2014 and be reinstated by the commissioner for 2015. While the Browns would obviously lose his services on the field, the team is not punished by having his salary count toward the teams 2014 cap number. So it literally costs them nothing to keep Gordon as a member of the club while he sits out his suspension.
You would have to imagine that for that year the Browns would be monitoring his progress in rehabilitation and would be the best ones to know if he is capable of making a comeback or not. According to NFL rules they would not be allowed contact with him for the year, but come on, be realistic, they’ll know what he is and isn’t doing.
Let’s also not forget that this time next year he will only be 24 years old. Let that sink in for a minute. If he’s rehabbing, staying in shape and working on football and bettering his life, would he somehow be washed up at 24? Absolutely not.
Should he continue to be a problem one of two things will happen: He either won’t be reinstated by the commissioner or he is reinstated but the Browns know he’s damaged goods and can part ways then. Either way, nothing is harmed from keeping him as a member of the club. They lose nothing except tossing out one of the few (maybe only) real star caliber players in the locker room.
There’s also the very “Cleveland-like” disaster scenario. The Browns cut him, he rehabs for a year and picks up right where he left off in 2013 except it’s in Foxboro with Patriots or Charlotte with the Panthers or New York with the Giants etc. He goes on to have a great career and the Browns live with the fact that they impulsively cut the guy because they wanted to send some sort of message about a new regime not dealing with any nonsense and “setting a tone” as I’ve heard so many radio show callers and Tweeters say in the last few days.
That, my friends, is called cutting off your nose to spite your face.
The second reason to not release him, and to me the most important, is the “human being” factor.
I get that everyone wants a well disciplined team. I get that you want to root for a team that doesn’t put up with nonsense from guys who just can’t get it right. But please don’t overlook the fact that this is clearly a very troubled human being.
The argument is made “why should I feel empathy for a millionaire who blows his opportunity?” And that’s a fair point. But if you dissect that question you may just find your answer. Would a “normal” person continually get into the trouble Gordon has been involved in? No. Would a “normal” person not realize they need new friends? Of course. Wouldn’t a “normal” person realize they need to get a grip on their life or they’re going to blow the opportunities they have? Absolutely. Those answers tell you unequivocally that this is not a “normal” person you’re dealing with.
Look, I don’t know Josh Gordon. I’ve never met him or even know any of his friends. If he is a spoiled brat who feels like he is above the law then the argument to cut is valid. However, the ones making this argument, and I’m including Cris Carter who spoke out that being cut was the best thing to happen to him and helped him realize he was throwing his career away, like me also don’t know Josh Gordon. They don’t know what his personality is like.
From everything that’s been reported, Gordon is an introvert who really doesn’t even have friends on the team. Not because other players don’t like him, but because he’s an introvert. Look up what it means if you’re saying “So! That doesn’t matter!” I recall numerous times Jim Donovan and Doug Dieken chuckling on the Browns Red Zone about how Gordon is a lone wolf, how he sits at his locker alone with his headphones on. This is a guy who keeps to himself and runs with a bad pack.
Cutting him is essentially giving up on him. So while you may want to root for an organization that administers tough love, I would much rather root for an organization that sees a guy who needs help and does everything they can to get it for him even if it means committing him to a program that takes him off the field for 2 years or he never even plays again.
Ironic, but don’t forget: Those same people saying “cut him!” are the some ones who will condemn the organization should they cut him and he wind up being a star elsewhere.
I want to touch on this briefly for those who haven’t heard at all or any of the the details, reserve defensive tackle Tracey Sprinkle was arrested Saturday night for “cocaine possession, rioting and failure to disperse following a massive bar fight in northeastern Ohio which police described as a riot.” Urban Meyer was quick to act and removed Sprinkle from the program. Sprinkle will have a chance to try and get back on the team at the conclusion of his trial, obviously, depending on the outcome.
Sprinkle is 19 years old. Unlike Josh Gordon, Sprinkle still has (even though Gordon is only 23) a dark green youth to him. He also has the advantage, if you will, of this being his first offense despite it being a whopper.
I guess really my only point in bringing this up is that like Gordon I’m hoping the university is doing all it can to help Sprinkle. Not from a legal aspect in trying to get him out it, but from a human aspect in hopefully getting him whatever he needs to realize this isn’t a path he wants to go down in life.
I realize what he did means he can’t be with the team any longer. And if he’s found guilty it’ll be the state of Ohio’s problem to see to his rehabilitation in a jail cell. When he gets out or if he doesn’t go, I would hope the program or the school reaches out to him to lend a hand.
Wrap it up
We’re almost to the middle of July, camps across the country will be opening soon. Like you, I can’t wait. Until next time, Go Bucks!
Metallica track of the week
For the first time in a long while, Metallica found themselves in the underdog role as they headlined the United Kingdom’s Glastonbury Festival. “Glasto” happens to be the biggest music festival in Europe every summer that typically focuses on pop and indie artists and is headlined by names like The Rolling Stones, Elton John and Beyonce.
They are the biggest metal and hard rock band in the world, but I call them underdogs because tit would have seemed as though nobody wanted them there. There were huge protests over James Hetfield narrating a bear hunting program, the British media proclaimed them “not Glastonbury worthy”, some of the indie acts on the lineup spoke out and threw shade (as if their careers will ever match anything Metallica has ever done) and so on. In the underdog role it would have been easy for them to just sneak in, play for an hour and slide out.
But that’s not what they did. Instead they announced their arrival at Glastonbury by kicking in the front door and mocking the people who said they didn’t belong by printing their smug quotes on the back of a t-shirt. If anyone still had any doubt that Metallica was their to dominate and was taking things quite seriously, that all was erased when the now infamous “Glastallica” intro video made aware to the protesters just how ridiculous the band found their cause (I mean come on, Hetfield narrates a bear hunting show, he doesn’t appear in it let alone actually hunt the bears) and that maybe they should take a look at the grand old British tradition of fox hunting if they want to get riled up about something.
The set itself was a greatest hits pile driver the likes of which have never been seen at the Glastonbury Festival. And you know what? The people seemed to have taken to it as though they expected it and knew what they were about to witness. The “hippies” that supposedly make up the audience at Glastonbury sang along to the chorus of Creeping Death loud enough to be heard over the PA. Hearing 130,000+ chant “Die!” set the tone for the night.
Watching the crowd pump their fist to Master of Puppets, sing along to The Memory Remains and the ovation at the close of One were just some of the highlights of a rowdy and loud Glastonbury crowd. But the best part regarding the masses had to be the Met Club members (Metallica’s fan club) piled up along the back of the stage symbolically saying “we got your back” to the metal titans.
So when the question was asked if Metallica at Glastonbury was a success for metal, I asked simply: How could it not be? The biggest band of all time in the genre, the trend setters, the trail blazers, thrust the music that metal fans love into another all new realm and did it with a metal attitude. Once again Metallica did it, did it well and they did it their way.
From the Glastonbury Festival, our MTOTW is The Memory Remains!