In a peculiar and ill-timed move, the Browns Saturday announced they plan to release troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon Monday.
In a statement issued on the eve of their Sunday game in New Orleans against the Saints, General Manager John Dorsey said, “For the past six years, the Browns have fully supported and invested in Josh, both personally and professionally and wanted the best for him. But unfortunately, we’ve reached a point where we feel it’s best to part ways and move forward. We wish Josh well.”
In the end, it turned out to be like an ill-fated romance that blossomed and then withered over a period of time. The Browns' patience with him finally gave out. It was inevitable due to numerous bumps along the way.
The talented wide receiver’s well-documented battle with alcohol and drugs severely hampered a promising career and the Browns, to their credit, kept hoping he would straighten out his life, giving him chance after chance after chance.
Reportedly, Gordon arrived tardily at the team’s facility in Berea Saturday and was “not himself,” NFL sources told ceveland.com. Doctors who examined him, again reportedly, were concerned he had either slipped in his battle with alcohol or was close.
That was when the club finally pulled the plug on their long, soap-opera-like relationship with Gordon, who has been suspended by the National Football League for 56 of his 97-game career. He has suited up for just 11 games since the end of the 2014 season.
Technically, he will remain Cleveland property until the team officially actually releases him Monday. But now that word is out, there are reports several teams have expressed interest in trading for him rather than waiting until he becomes a free agent.
It truly is a sad ending to what could have become a terrific story if only he had managed to control his sobriety. Now, he will be some other team’s problem.
In some ways, Gordon will always be known as the wide receiver who shocked the NFL in his second season, recording some of the most remarkable and dazzling statistics for one of the league’s worst teams.
Playing in 14 games, he caught 87 passes for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns for the 4-12 2013 Browns. That's nearly 117 yards a game. The Browns were 4-10 when he was in uniform.
What made those numbers so remarkable was it took the combined efforts of three different quarterbacks – Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer – to accomplish it.
In some ways, Gordon’s eventual departure is sort of a cleansing. Now the club can move forward minus the Gordon baggage as they attempt to rekindle a part of their history that was awash with success.
Gordon needs a fresh start in many different ways. This was a relationship that just wasn’t meant to be in Cleveland, except for that one rather exciting glimmer of hope five years ago.
He leaves with 180 receptions for 3,106 yards –more than half of those yards were gained in one season – and 16 touchdown, and a fan base wondering what could have been.