The outlook for New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon has shifted a bit as of late, but the focus remains on his personal health. After Gordon was acquired by the team in a trade with the Cleveland Browns early in the year, he impressed over a short period in New England. Unfortunately, that time was cut short as some concerning news came to light over his previous off-field struggles.
Gordon, who’s struggled with substance abuse previously, announced on social media that he would step away from the team in late December. He cited the need to focus on his mental health while thanking Patriots coach Bill Belichick, owner Robert Kraft and “countless others within the Patriots organization” for their support.
The 27-year-old receiver was suspended indefinitely shortly after this news came to light. But the concern is high following a recent report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, who reported Gordon went through “some of his darkest times” while with the Patriots.
During his time in New England, he went through some of his darkest times, according to sources.
By the time his suspension was official, his issues were real, serious and related to far more than just marijuana.
Rapoport also offered an update on Gordon’s potential return to the NFL and the outlook for his suspension moving forward.
Josh Gordon Wants NFL Return, Has ‘Uphill Battle’
In the in-depth breakdown of Gordon’s current situation, Rapoport detailed a few different aspects involving the state of his suspension and his interest in returning. According to the report, Gordon wants to play but his suspension leaves him with an uphill battle in an attempt to come back.
Good progress is being made now, sources say, and while Gordon wants to play football, it’s clear that recovery is his first priority.
Gordon’s latest suspension keeps him in Stage 3 of the drug program and gives him an uphill battle to return to the field. He has yet to be active for an entire season.
The most important area of focus remains on Gordon’s personal health, so while a football return remains a potential discussion, it would likely come down the line. It does seem as though the Patriots haven’t completely closed the door on his return, and Roger Goodell even addressed the receiver prior to the Super Bowl.
Roger Goodell’s Comments & Gordon’s Possible Return
There are going to be a massive number of hurdles that need to be cleared before Gordon can return, so it still remains up in the air. Doug Kyed of NESN cited that the receiver was spotted working out at a Gainesville-area gym in January and has been “granted freedom to work out based on time spent in the facility.”
Kyed also says a return to the Patriots remains possible, while Rapoport and NFL.com pointed out that while no timeline for reinstatement is on the table, Gordon being ready for training camp is “a possibility.” As pointed out, multiple steps would happen prior to that, and per the analyst, commissioner Roger Goodell remained focused on his well-being, not just his football career.
“I understand the struggles and challenges that he’s had to go through,” Goodell said, “and he is working at it. He understands what he has to do and this is well beyond football. This is for his life.”
There’s a lot which must still be worked out, but the hope is that Gordon can turn a corner and really begin to head on the right path moving forward.