Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Apologists who blame the NFL or the Cleveland Browns for Josh Gordon's plight are doing a disservice to the 23- year-old star-crossed receiver.
Enabling Gordon hasn't worked and it's time for some tough love.
Gordon was officially suspended without pay for a minimum of one year for violating the league's substance abuse policy on Tuesday after failing yet another league-issued test, this time for alcohol.
It's his third NFL suspension in as many years and the former All-Pro was also penalized by the Browns in Week 17 last season after missing a walk-through.
"As we have conveyed, we are disappointed to once again be at this point with Josh," Browns general manager Ray Farmer said in a statement released by the team.
You can't blame Farmer for sounding fed up with Gordon because the young receiver continues to be the kind of person who uses his 4.4 speed to race away from personal responsibility, while using excuses or shifting the blame as crutches to explain away any unfledged behavior.
In an open letter to his critics on The Cauldron last week, Gordon explained that he tested positive for alcohol after having two drinks and two beers on a plane to Las Vegas with some teammates on Jan. 2.
The NFL had issued a zero-tolerance drinking policy on Gordon as a result of a DWI offense last July as well as prior substance-abuse test failures, yet the immature Texas native claimed he thought it was okay to drink because the season was over.
The guileless Gordon complicated matters by posting a video from the flight on social media and quickly received notice upon landing that he was to report to a testing site within four hours.
It was just the latest in a long line of setbacks for Gordon, who also failed at least three marijuana tests in college and was kicked out of both Utah and Baylor. He was suspended for two games by the NFL in 2013 for what he claims was codeine in a prescribed cough syrup, and 10 games last year for what he pegged as second-hand marijuana smoke.
NFL test failures are confidential, however, so Gordon's descriptions of his previous peccadilloes at the professional level are unchallenged and likely at least to some degree, spin.
"Truth is, I have not smoked marijuana since before I was drafted by the Browns in 2012 and there are years' worth of drug tests to prove it," he wrote in his open letter. "So, then how did I get here, you ask? That's easy. I messed up."
And messed up and messed up and messed up...
"I failed myself when I started using marijuana regularly as a young teenager," Gordon wrote. "I failed myself when I ruined a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be Robert Griffin III's running mate during his Heisman Trophy- winning season at Baylor. I failed myself when I didn't check with the league office to ensure that my doctor-prescribed, codeine-based medicine was allowed under NFL guidelines.
"I failed myself when I was arrested for driving a motor vehicle with a blood- alcohol level over the legal limit. I failed myself when I missed a team walk-through late in the season and was suspended for the final game of the year."
Before you get too excited and assume Gordon was set to look in the mirror sometime soon, think again.
"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 wrote."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."
He might be a good person and we all hope he perseveres but Gordon needs help, although he hasn't figured out that part of the equation just yet.
And until he does, he's got no chance.
Remember Gordon's checkered history with substances he shouldn't be using is only part of the problem with sources at the Browns claiming he was consistently late for meetings and other team-required activities long before skipping the final walk-through of the year which resulted in a suspension.
"If I have a "problem," it is that I am only 23 years old -- with a lot left to learn," Gordon wrote. "I've come a long way from those mean Fondren (Houston, Tex.) streets, but it's clear that I can be a better me -- one who kids coming up to me for selfies and autographs can be proud of. I want that future for myself. And I truly believe that what I am going through right now will only make me stronger. I believe that my future is bright."
If you want to really know what makes someone tick, ignore the words and watch the actions. Talk is cheap and Gordon's past behavior has shown he has no interest in being a role model for kids or anyone else for that matter.
"I succeeded by escaping a youth riddled with poverty, gang violence and very little in the way of guidance or support," Gordon claimed. "I succeeded by narrowly avoiding a life of crime that managed to sink its clutches into almost all of my childhood friends. I succeeded by working tremendously hard on my craft and my body to even have a chance to play professional football for a living. And, contrary to popular belief, I succeeded by overcoming my longstanding relationship with weed -- because I knew I was risking my future over it."
So why continue to risk it?
It's certainly possible you can chalk all of this up to a young twentysomething's immaturity but recovery is only for those who want it, not necessarily for those who need it.
And Gordon hasn't hit his rock bottom just yet.
"What I do know is the following: I am not a drug addict; I am not an alcoholic," he said.
The Browns have now joined many others who simply no longer believe that.
"Throughout (Josh's) career, we have tried to assist him in getting support like we would with any member of our organization," Farmer said. "Unfortunately our efforts have not resonated with him. It is evident that Josh needs to make some substantial strides to live up to the positive culture we are trying to build this football team upon."