BEREA, Ohio — Josh Gordon has never played an NFL game sober. That has to change if he plans to play in another one.
One day before the Browns wide receiver gets another shot at rebooting his star-crossed career, Gordon revealed in a candid magazine interview that he used drugs or alcohol before every game of his career — pro or college.
Gordon, who was reinstated on a conditional basis by Commissioner Roger Goodell last week after being suspended for nearly three years, told GQ he drank or smoked marijuana before “every game. Probably every game of my career.”
The former Pro Bowler did the interview before meeting with Goodell in New York. Gordon said he began taking drugs in seventh grade, and he outlined a pregame routine as a pro where he would do shots of alcohol to “get the motor running.”
“We would stay at the team hotel, and then players are allowed to go back home, get what they need and then go to the game,” Gordon said. “So I’d leave the hotel early morning, go home, eat breakfast, do my little ritual, whatever it may be, some weed, some alcohol and then go to the game. And then, I’d definitely be partying after every game, win or lose. Every game.”
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Gordon’s shocking admission came as the Browns prepared to welcome him back to their facility on Tuesday. On Monday, executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said the team has had limited contact with Gordon since his reinstatement.
“We have had some preliminary conversations with him,” Brown said. “We are looking forward to having him back.”
Coach Hue Jackson said Gordon’s disclosure won’t change the team’s decision to accept him back.
“I think he was letting things out if that is what was said,” said Jackson, who coached Gordon before the 26-year-old checked himself into rehab in 2016. “I think he was cleansing himself of his past, and I get that a little bit, but again, I think he said what he felt he needed to say.”
Jackson said he planned to sit down with Gordon and discuss his disclosures, which included him saying, “a bunch of guys smoke weed before the game. But we’re not talking about them.”
Gordon has been suspended three times for multiple violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy. During his first stint with the Browns, Gordon said he found ways to cheat the league’s rules.
“If I had already been drug tested that week, or the day before the game, I knew I had a couple days to buy to clean my system,” he said. “Even before I was getting tested for alcohol, prior to my DWI in 2014, I would take the biggest bong rip I could. And try to conceal all the smell off all my clothes. I’d be dressed up to go to the game. I would have these little pre-made shots. I used to love Grand Marnier. I could drink it down smooth. I could usually drink a lot of it.
“But if it wasn’t that, it might be a whiskey or something. And I would drink probably like half a glass, or a couple shots to try and warm my system up, basically. To get the motor running. That’s what I would do for games.”
In the conditions established by Goodell, Gordon is allowed to attend team meetings and work out by himself. As long as he fulfills requirements, Gordon can begin practicing with the Browns on Nov. 20.
Gordon has missed 51 games since 2014 due to the suspensions, derailing a career filled with so much promise.
In the GQ piece, Gordon said he was forced to move from Ohio to Florida to escape ridicule after he was suspended.
“I’ve been harassed, had drinks thrown at me,” he said. “I’ve been (followed) in the grocery store, heckled everywhere. At the games, people harassed and heckled my brothers and my mom. Somebody dented the hood of the car. Had to sue a guy and get the money back ’cause he damaged the car. People are throwing money, pennies, to break the windows. So Cleveland was rough, man.”
Jackson said he’s not worried that Gordon is painting a gloomy picture to get out of playing for the winless Browns.
“I don’t think he is trying to do that,” he said. “I do need to feel comfortable that he is not. If he is coming back to play football, I think he knows he needs to play football here. There is no other place that he can do what he needs to do in the National Football League, I am talking about as far as playing. It is right here.”