In a shocking, but somewhat not surprising twist, Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon is stepping away from football to focus on his mental health.
Gordon published a statement on his Twitter account on Thursday morning:
Gordon has already been dealt numerous substance/drug-related suspensions by the NFL over his playing career. Although Gordon is taking a step away from football, the NFL is reportedly going to suspend him indefinitely for violating their substance abuse policy. Whatever substance Gordon is in violation of taking, it is undoubtedly a blow to both him and the Patriots organization.
The Patriots acquired Josh Gordon early on in the 2018-2019 NFL season when they traded a 5th-round pick to the Cleveland Brown for the former 2nd-rounder. With the Patriots, Gordon had 40 catches for 720 yards and 3 TDs and provided an extra wrinkle in the team’s offense when they so desperately needed one after going 2-2 to start the season. His big-bodied frame added to a receiving-core previously made up of smaller, quicker pass-catchers.
For Gordon’s coaches, teammates, and fans, there was always a collective deep breath taken when he came back from a suspension because there was always a chance he could be re-suspended and off the team. He has a good heart and is a likable player, but it is quite unfortunate that this has become his life.
This topic is really a three-part story: the story of Josh Gordon the football player, Josh Gordon the person, and the Patriots organization.
For Josh Gordon the football player, there have been short, yet dominant and inspirational moments from his 52-game career. In a four-game stretch in 2013, Gordon had 36 catches on 57 targets for 774 yards and five touchdowns. In that same span, he had back-to-back 200-yard receiving games and is the only player in NFL history to accomplish this feat. Mind you, he was doing this with Josh Campbell as his quarterback, along with other mediocre-to-average signal-callers throughout his career, making this accomplishment even more impressive. In just this four-game span, he put up numbers that an average receiver in the NFL would consider respectable over a full season.
With the Patriots, he was not that same dominant player as he was in 2013, but he still brought his refined receiving skills with him and helped bolster the team’s skill-position group.
For Josh Gordon the person, it has been a cyclical cycle of substance abuse and drug-related incidences that have hindered is growth and development as a person in society and as a player in the NFL. Millions of people can relate to his story of fighting with their own inner demons and mental health. Just when things were starting to look up, things seemingly came crashing back down to Earth.
For anyone battling mental health issues, drug use, or any other personal battles, please don’t be afraid to seek help and speak to someone so that you are not alone in your fight.
As for the Patriots organization, they are now left with a receiving group of Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Cordarelle Patterson, and Phillip Dorsett. Dorsett has been a healthy scratch for most of the season since Gordon’s arrival and he will now be called upon to help fill the void left with Gordon’s departure. This team had already been lacking and struggling with this group of players before the Josh Gordon trade and now they are back to square one.
With back-to-back losses to the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers, the team was already headed in the wrong direction and this news sets the team back even further. It is to be assumed that Dorsett will be on the field (or at least active) for the remainder of the season and players like James White and Rex Burkhead should be utilized more in the passing game.
Of course, the most important issue at hand here is the mental state of Gordon. Hopefully, he gets the best treatment and counseling out there and can conquer the fight he is battling. Best of luck to you, Josh; Pats nation will surely miss you!