CLEVELAND -- It had been more than a year since Josh Gordon last walked into the Cleveland Browns’ training facility before he reported to Berea Tuesday after being conditionally reinstated by the National Football League last week.
Meeting with coach Hue Jackson was one of Gordon’s first tasks in the building, and the veteran NFL coach felt the person that met with him now was much different than the one he saw in the building last season.
“I was really impressed sitting across from Josh and talking to him,” Jackson said following Wednesday’s practice. “It was different than the time a year ago when he was back during the summer. I saw a young man who was a lot more mature, who understood exactly where he is and what he was trying to accomplish and do.
“We touched several different subjects, and I will keep that between me and him. I was very pleased with where Josh was. He looks in tremendous shape, and there is a different look in his eye. I am excited that he is here.”
When Gordon has been eligible to play in the NFL, his talent resulted in a Pro Bowl appearance, an All-Pro selection and multiple franchise records, but his accomplishments on the field paled in comparison to his struggles away from the game.
During his career, Gordon has been suspended on three occasions for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Since his Pro Bowl season of 2013, Gordon has been suspended for 41 consecutive games dating back to the final week of the 2014 season, which was a team ban for reportedly missing a walk-through prior to the trip to Baltimore to play the Ravens.
“I think you earn it every day, but I think we have to give him the opportunity to earn it, too,” Jackson said of Gordon developing trust with the organization. “It is a two-way street. We also have to earn his trust and him sharing with us the things he has been through.
“I think it goes both ways, and I think he gets that. I think over time, it will show itself where we are, but we are going to support him and we are going to give him every opportunity to do the things that he needs to do to be a part of this football team.”
Gordon has been suspended for a total of 53 career games, 52 of which were NFL bans for positive drug and alcohol tests.
“It starts with him,” Jackson said. “He is a grown man, and so, we are going to treat him that way, but we are going to do everything we can to support him. The things that he needs from us, we will do everything we can within the rules that the National Football League allows us to do to support him that way and that is what we have to do.
“He knows my phone is on 24-7, and that is not just with him, but with all of our players. I just think that is one of the huge keys. If you know that somebody is going to be there for you and going to help you through whatever, you have a chance of making it. We wish the best for him, and we want him to make it. Obviously, I think he does too this time.”
© 2017 WKYC-TV