It’s no secret that Josh Gordon has a history of drug and alcohol use. The Cleveland Browns wide receiver recently was reinstated by the NFL from an indefinite suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policies and also detailed the extent of his issues with drugs and alcohol in a mini-documentary last month. But what hadn’t been revealed was that the former Baylor star wasn’t just using drugs; he was selling them – and making a sizable profit.
Gordon, 26, said that while in college he was making as much as $10,000 a month from the sale of marijuana, according to a feature by Sports Illustrated’s Ben Baskin. From SI:
As a sophomore at Baylor he says he was receiving as much as six pounds of weed – vacuum-sealed and wrapped in Mylar, sprayed with kerosene and covered in coffee beans to mask the smell, shipped through U.S. mail – every week from a dealer back home. He would drive to Dallas, Austin and San Antonio to sell it, and he estimates he was bringing in upward of $10,000 in profit every month. He was arrested for possession in fall 2010 and one year later was indefinitely suspended for failing a school drug test.
Gordon, who Sunday is expected to play in his first NFL game since 2014, said he began selling marijuana while in high school as a means to support his family. He told Baskin that his drug use began in middle school, first with marijuana in seventh grade and then Xanax in eighth grade. His first time trying cocaine was in 2011, when Gordon, who had transferred to Utah, was sitting out a year. Gordon also notes that he gave up smoking marijuana during his first two NFL seasons and that he was “a social drinker,” according to the profile.
But in a GQ interview released earlier this month but after Baskin’s interview, Gordon had said he smoked marijuana or drank alcohol before every game. “I used to make a ritual of it before every game,” he told GQ’s Clay Skipper. He also had previously said he had used “marijuana most of my life” and “Xanax on many occasions, cocaine several occasions,” plus other drugs and alcohol throughout high school, college and his professional football career. Gordon in the SI feature admits to lying and says he was “directed to protect our interest as opposed to revealing certain information at that point in time.” Gordon’s manager, Michael Johnson, later told Baskin that Gordon may have been nervous or had misremembered certain details; Johnson also admits in the SI interview that they were parceling out Gordon’s story for profit.
“We got other projects we’re doing,” said Johnson, who is on probation for his role in a recruiting scandal at North Carolina. “I can’t give you his whole life story when you’re not even guaranteeing me the cover [of Sports Illustrated]. Because, first off, we are not getting paid for this.”
Despite the apparent withholding of “his whole life story,” Gordon gave an extraordinarily forthcoming look into his life that included fighting, guns, gang involvement, stealing cars and stealing electronics, as well as exceptional athletic talent.
“I didn’t plan on living past 18,” Gordon said. “Not a chance.”
While at Baylor, Gordon was arrested for possession in 2010 and was indefinitely suspended by the school a year later after failing a drug test. He failed another drug test before ever taking the field for Utah and returned home to Houston. After being taken in the second round of the NFL’s supplemental draft in 2012, he was suspended for the first two games of the 2013 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He finished that season as the NFL’s leading receiver with 1,646 yards and was named an all-pro.
He was arrested in July 2014 for driving while impaired. The next month, he was suspended one year by the NFL for another failed drug test; Gordon contended in his appeal that the positive drug test was because of secondhand smoke. Later, the suspension was reduced to 10 games.
In 2015, he was suspended for the entire season for again violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Gordon was reinstated ahead of the 2016 season but was issued a four-game ban to start the season. He never made it onto the field, instead entering rehab. He was reinstated for the 2017 season Nov. 1.
Browns Coach Hue Jackson said Monday that he has “big plans” for Gordon in his first game back. “I plan for him to play and play as much as he can handle,” Jackson told reporters.