The NFL announced Gordon’s reinstatement Monday, saying he will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season. He will be allowed to join the Browns at their training camp, which starts Thursday, and can participate in all team meetings and activities.
“The last few times Josh was suspended, he couldn’t be with team, and that was counterproductive. This is a great change, the fact that he can stay with the team during the suspension.”
Drew Rosenhaus, on NFL letting Josh Gordon be with Browns during 4-game suspension
Gordon will be permitted to remain with his team during his four-game suspension, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said.
This is a unique situation, unlike other suspended players such as Tom Brady, who are banned from any football-related activities with their team during suspension. Any player suspended for performance-enhancing drugs or personal conduct policy violations have to stay away from the team, but there has been some leeway given to players on substance abuse suspensions, and commissioner Roger Goodell deemed this one of those cases.
“The last few times Josh was suspended, he couldn’t be with team, and that was counterproductive,” Rosenhaus said. “This is a great change, the fact that he can stay with the team during the suspension. Commissioner Goodell believes the ability for Josh to work with the team during his suspension will help him. He went outside the norm in this case.”
Rosenhaus said Goodell went one step further, and he said the commissioner told him that he hopes this unique change in the policy will help bridge the gap between the NFL and NFLPA and allow them to craft a policy that will further help the players.
“Both sides believe the program can be improved,” Rosenhaus said.
While some have speculated that Gordon could be traded, Rosenhaus believes the Browns plan to retain Gordon, not trade him, and try to bring out all his potential.
“It’s my strong impression that Josh and the Browns are determined to work together,” Rosenhaus said. “From our standpoint, we’re committed to working with the Browns to work with guys like Hue [Jackson] and Al [Saunders]. Josh is good friends with RG III and Corey Coleman. He’s had a great friend in Joe Haden, who has been in his corner. He’s excited to get back. Hopefully the only stories about Josh from now on will be about him scoring touchdowns and having big games.”
Haden tweeted support to Gordon on Monday.
The league also announced that Gordon will be eligible to play in all of Cleveland’s preseason games once his clinical resources in Cleveland are confirmed. He will be eligible to return from his four-game suspension on Oct. 3.
Goodell wrote a letter to Gordon on Monday, saying he has “every belief that [Gordon] will make the right choices.”
“As we discussed at our [July 19] meeting, as Commissioner, I want nothing more than to see you turn your circumstances around and succeed,” Goodell wrote to Gordon. “Countless others including your agent, teammates and coaches, Mr. Haslam and the leadership of the organization, the Program professionals and Jim Brown also have pledged to provide you with every resource at their disposal. But as you acknowledged, ultimately, your future is your responsibility. I have every belief that you can make the right choices, but it will be up to you to do so.”
Gordon was suspended two games in 2013, 10 games in 2014 and for the entire 2015 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
He was denied reinstatement in April after reports he failed a drug test because of a diluted samples that also tested positive for marijuana. The level of marijuana did not meet the NFL’s threshold for suspension, but the diluted samples are considered the same as a positive test.
At the time, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Gordon’s possible reinstatement would be delayed until the league feels comfortable that he has 60-90 days of no “red-flag tests.”
The Browns have continually said they will not address Gordon’s situation until the league decides whether Gordon will be reinstated. The Browns would then sit down and talk with Gordon and assess his frame of mind and attitude before making any decision on taking him back.
If the Browns retain Gordon, his first regular-season game would be against theNew England Patriots in Week 5 — the same day Brady would be eligible to return from his four-game Deflategate suspension.
Gordon, 25, has 161 receptions for 2,754 yards and 14 touchdowns in 35 career games, all with the Browns. He emerged as one of the NFL’s top receivers in his Pro Bowl 2013 season, when he had a league-leading 1,646 receiving yards and caught nine touchdowns.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Pat McManamon contributed to this report. www.espn.com