January 29, 2015

Josh Gordon: I Am Not an Addict: Josh Gordon has written an essay on Medium about his suspension. The gist is that he's made mistakes but he's not the substance abuse addict that sports pundits who don't know him have claimed. "I am not someone who deserves to be dissected and analyzed like some tragic example of everything that can possibly go wrong for a professional athlete," he writes. "I am not going to die on account of the troubled state you wrongly believe my life to be in. I am a human being, with feelings and emotions and scars and flaws, just like anyone else. I make mistakes  --  I have made a lot of mistakes  --  but I am a good person, and I will persevere."

posted by rcade to football at 07:24 PM - 7 comments

One of the tell-tale signs of addiction (vs. recreational use) is an inability to see the problems associated with your use as related to the use - but rather, a product of the environment around you. But that's also the case for people who are just generally unable to make good long-term value judgments on their own behaviour. In Gordon's case, it seems as though the latter is going to be what kills his career.

Yes - people are human, and make mistakes - but Josh Gordon's gone from being one of the elite WR in the NFL on his way to a huge payday to a guy who may get cut because he violated the terms that got his suspension reduced the first time around. All for the sake of a single beer? Doesn't it make that beer, for the duration of your "make-good" period, totally not worth it?

Fact is, I don't like the draconian NFL view on pot and alcohol. I think nature will take its course and guys who can't cut it because they're high too much will naturally get (sic) weeded out.

But Josh Gordon's found a way to violate even the things I don't like - drinking and driving, and not being committed enough to make a team walkthrough while trying to make it up to your team for getting suspended. Fact is - a lot of us avoid getting caught drinking and driving by never doing it. We show up to work every day, knowing that we don't have a right to get paid. Those are patterns of behaviour that people want to invest in, and do. Greatness is not about skill - it's about continued and predictable execution, and unfortunately Josh Gordon at 23 is not great.

I hope the guy can get out from under the spectre of the NFL's ire and make it right. But - focusing on whether or not you're an addict is again focusing on things other than what the actual problem is - that Josh Gordon needs to learn how to make decisions with a long-term view if he is going to deserve the investment of a team past high-risk, short-term contracts. Clock starts now on that.

posted by dfleming at 07:50 AM on January 30

Why don't you believe that he drank the booze on the plane in the mistaken belief that the no-alcohol rule ended when the Browns' season did?

I don't know he's telling the truth. He could be in denial. But if he was allowed to drink in the off-season after a certain date, it's plausible that he might make the mistake of believing it was OK.

To me, he shows enough character in the essay to make me think he can salvage his career and repair his reputation after his suspension is over. He doesn't claim innocence or call his punishment unfair. The only thing he protests is the perception he's an out-of-control substance abuser headed for a tragic end.

posted by rcade at 10:53 AM on January 30

If he's telling the truth, I'm pretty convinced that he's not an addict and made some very poor decisions that got him in big trouble. I also read it as he taking full responsibility for his actions.

posted by jmd82 at 12:35 PM on January 30

He says this:

As a strict condition to my reinstatement in Week 12, I had to agree not only to abstain from drinking for the rest of the season, but also to submit to an alcohol screen as part of my in-season drug testing under the league's substance-abuse protocol. Did I think that was excessive given I had never had any issue whatsoever with alcohol? Yes. Did I think it was hypocritical that a professional league making hundreds of millions of dollars off beer sponsorships was telling me not to drink? Yes. Did I so much as blink at the condition? No.

He thinks these conditions were hypocritical, and doesn't think he's ever had issues with drinking despite getting caught drinking and driving six months ago. I don't know how to take that - other than someone else has the problem (the NFL's hypocrisy), but not him.

You don't have to be a volume consumer to have a problem with the stuff - one of the telltale signs being, when you touch it, your life goes to shit.

I think it's an impassioned essay, and Josh Gordon deserves a ton of respect for utilizing his talents to get out of a world I don't at all know. That must've been a huge struggle.

But - Josh Gordon was suspended by his team a few days earlier, then decided it was appropriate to go to Vegas drinking on a private plane. He's free to do what he wants, but the consequence is that people are going to rightly question why it is you can't make the rational decision to keep your head down, kill it, and get a massive deal that makes you set for life.

Either that's a problem with your decision making skills, or a problem with substance, but regardless, it's not a problem with perception, and that's all this essay is trying to fix.

posted by dfleming at 12:35 PM on January 30

I don't know how to take that - other than someone else has the problem (the NFL's hypocrisy), but not him.

Gordon says multiple times in the essay that he failed and takes responsibility for his poor decisions. I think you should take his remark about the NFL's sponsorship of beer drinking to be an acknowledgement of irony, given the cause of his suspension.

It was probably unwise for him from a PR statement to talk about that, but he's lost a huge paycheck for doing something the NFL is paid millions to encourage.

posted by rcade at 01:37 PM on January 30

Right, but like many other people, his paycheck became contingent on his not drinking when he got arrested due to a problem with it. Lots of punishments in the judicial system are reduced contingent on stopping the problem behavior.

Again - it doesn't really matter if he's a volume alcoholic, or a guy with a really bad luck streak when it comes to booze and substances. If I was him, with that track record, I'd have probably put a lot more distance between a Las Vegas party trip and the last suspension by my team a few days earlier.

I hope the guy gets it - owning the mistakes is good, but changing the behavior is what is going to keep him on an NFL roster. He's probably got zero room for error now.

posted by dfleming at 02:44 PM on January 30

On that subject, Jaguars owner Shad Khan now "very optimistic" that Justin Blackmon will return in 2015.

posted by rcade at 03:17 PM on January 30

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