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Reflecting on the Josh Gordon era after an abrupt ending

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Seattle Seahawks v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Fans of the Seattle Seahawks were shocked on December 16th when Josh Gordon was suspended by the NFL for violating policies on restricted substances.

After the initial storm of emotion, the week got even worse: Josh Gordon had tested positive for both PEDs and substances of abuse. To set the record straight, we don’t know what those substances were, and likely won’t know their names unless something gets leaked.

Not to be outdone, on December 20th, Al Woods was suspended for four games for PEDs as well. It’s the most concentrated dose of Seattle drug incidents since the Adderall phase of 2011-13.

But Josh Gordon made the news for a day in a way that not even Myles Garrett accomplished this season. It’s been covered by every semi-sports related news outlet that I have been able to find. Some talk about Gordon’s past, some about NFL policy, some about drugs, and some just quote what other people think about it.

But Josh will end the 2019 season as a Seahawk, but he will be an unrestricted free agent if he is ever able to gain reinstatement from the league.

Therefore, it’s appropriate to take one more look at the short and flashy tenure of Josh Gordon the Seahawk.

Because whatever you may think of Gordon, Week 15 stands as either the best or second best catch of the entire season for the Seahawks. This compares only with Tyler Lockett’s 6% TD reception or however hard the nerds said that catch was.

Step 1: Be good enough to do this:

Step 2: Be saavy enough to do that:


But it does beg the question, how will you think of the Josh Gordon situation? He is a truly special athlete with a truly powerful drug problem. I’ve seen minimum eight different opinions floated around in various circles, and I’m sure there’s more.

I have, for the sake of decorum, not included any of the fans or pundits who are associated with any of these opinions. Some are mine, many are not. This is a conversation that the NFL, owners, coaches, NFLPA, fans, college coaches, NCAA, parents and athletes all need to continue. I think the NFL tends to handle only one important problem at a time (domestic violence, patriotism, CTE, how badly to punish the Patriots). Drugs of all kinds are going to be more involved with the NFL’s future, not less.

So here are eight different perspectives on the too-short stay of Josh Gordon. In the last two weeks, people have expressed:

1) Sympathy for a man who cannot overcome....whatever you’d like to call it. Be it illness, addiction, personal demons, bad past, CTE (though I haven’t heard that argument applied to Gordon).

2) A sense of justice and a “serves-you-right” attitude - after all this is Gordon’s sixth such disqualification from the league, with a seventh suspension having been handed down by the Cleveland Browns in 2014. He started experimenting with drugs in middle school, and has had far more second chances in 15 years than most people get in a lifetime.

3) Anger at the NFL or NFLPA or legal system or whoever’s in charge for not doing more to help athletes caught in these type of struggles. Having been suspended for two full years, some wonder whether he should have been allowed back into the league; if he had truly done the necessary recovery work. Furthermore, one wonders if the NFL is supposed to be involved in these types of personal struggles. Often, Roger Goodell and his cronies are criticized for being far too involved. But might the league be able to offer some greater level of assistance, accountability, or action steps?

4) Frustration at the Seattle Seahawks franchise for (a) signing a long-troubled player or (b) not being able to “fix” him. Pete Carroll is renowned for giving second chances, a philosophy that is almost guaranteed to work sometimes and backfire others. To be fair, it is entirely possible that all of this could have gone down before Gordon ever got to the Seahawks, but it might have been after.

5) An indignation that marijuana is not legal in the NFL. I mean he was suspended for both banned categories, so this is kind of the end of that argument, but it’s still something you can feel I suppose. I’m sure they’ll get there soon, and you’ll be free to join the league at that point. I assume that is what’s been holding you back.

6) A sense of wonder as to how people with such unbelievable physical gifts can also not seem to play by the rules of society. I think there’s plenty of overweight, clumsy, or otherwise ungifted individuals who also don’t play by said rules, so I’m not totally sure what to do with this one. It might happen more among athletes, it might not - I’m not one qualified to make that connection. Nevertheless, the likes of: “something something these damned kids don’t appreciate what they have, something” I’ve seen more than a few times. For what it’s worth, entitlement is a sinister disease; I’m simply saying I’m not convinced that’s most of what’s happening in these stories.

7) Desperation as to the Seahawks’ future. This was a bit more of a viable option before the events of the Arizona Cardinals game transpired. If your concern for this team because of Josh’s absence is still high, you probably haven’t been paying much attention, but at least you acknowledge he was a very good player who is no longer playing. That’s something.

8) Relief and justification that Seattle never made Gordon a truly integral part of the offense. If they had, where would that have left them going forward?
Either the Seahawks were accidentally very fortunate for being so dumb as to not use their WR3 like a WR3, OR they were intentionally very smart for considering something like this might happen. Us common folk will surely never know the upper-management knowledge on this one, so essentially it doesn’t matter what you believe in this category. But the theories are certainly intriguing, that John Schneider and Pete Carroll may have told Russell Wilson to intentionally not throw the ball to Josh Gordon, in case he be suspended later on. That way the Seahawks would be less likely to lose games later in the season, when they...can’t throw the ball to Josh Gordon. I think that would have been very wise indeed.

Where do you stand?

Have we left out any important perspectives?

How would you want the Seahawks to handle this when - more like if - Josh ever makes it back to the game?

And finally, the vast overabundance of Josh-Gordon-running-to-the-mlb-because-marijuana-is-getting-legalized memes that got shared in those 24 hours was......something. Athletes claim to not pay attention to any of their own media, and I sure hope that’s the case here, for his sake.