Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen New England act as the Island of Misfit Players. For whatever reason, Bill Belichick loves picking up the castoffs from other teams around the league and somehow turning them into stars. Danny Amendola did his fair share of bouncing around the league after being released just to turn into a playoff hero with the Patriots. When news broke out of Cleveland that the Browns were planning to release wide receiver Josh Gordon, it seemed like a perfect set up for the Patriots.

Josh Gordon, when he’s been on the field, has been a dominant deep threat not only for his incredible speed but his ability to attack on 50/50 balls. Off the field, however, has been another story. His struggles with addiction date back to middle school when he first began to self medicate with Xanax, marijuana and codeine to cope with anxiety, social awkwardness, and the feeling of inadequacy. Throughout high school and college things only got worse, admitting in an interview with Uninterrupted that a coach at Baylor would help him cheat drugs tests by giving him detox drinks. In 2011, Gordon transferred to Utah where he didn’t play a single snap. After another failed drug test, he went home to Houston where he began dealing marijuana again and opted for the NFL’s Supplemental Draft.

Once entering the league, not much changed for the talented wideout. Gordon admitted he had a pregame ritual of bong rips and shots of alcohol and believes he had “something in [his] system for probably every game of [his] career.”

Gordon’s Career Timeline

2012: His rookie season is the only one in which he’s played all 16 games, ending with 50 receptions, 805 yards, and five touchdowns.

2013: Prior to the start of the season, Josh Gordon was suspended for the first two games due to a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Once returning from the suspension, he played the remaining 14 games of what has been his best season to date recording 87 receptions, 1,646 yards, and eight touchdowns. He became the first NFL player to record back-to-back 200 yard games (weeks 12 and 13). Gordon also finished the season as the NFL leader in receiving yards and earned Pro-Bowl and first team All-Pro honors.

2014: Before the start of the 2014 season, Gordon was arrested for a DWI in Raleigh, NC. Months later, the NFL suspended him for the season after failing a drug test (marijuana), but it was later reduced to 10 games. He played the next five games after the suspension but was suspended by the Cleveland Browns for the final game. Gordon overslept after “coming out of a blackout” and missed the team’s Saturday walkthrough. Despite all of that, he finished the season with 24 receptions and 303 yards.

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2015: After another violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, this time due to alcohol, Gordon was suspended for the entire season.

2016: His initial reinstatement application was denied in April after another failed drug test. Come July, he was reinstated and allowed to participate in training camp despite being suspended the first four games of the season. The Browns expected him to play come week five, but instead he opted to enroll in a 30-day intensive rehab program in New Hampshire. Gordon didn’t play single snap in 2016. At the 60-day sober mark, Gordon decided to celebrate in what he said was “the only way [he] knew how.” After relapsing, he realized he had hit rock bottom and checked back into rehab for three months.

2017: After another application for reinstatement was denied in May, Gordon waited until the fall to apply again. He was granted conditional eligibility and ended up playing five games that season. In those games he recorded 18 receptions, 335 yards and one touchdown.

2018: Gordon announced he would not be participating in training camp as part of his “overall health and treatment plan.” In his statement, he assured the Cleveland Browns and their fans that he was in great place physically and mentally. The Browns then released a statement saying they were supportive of Gordon’s decision and couldn’t wait for him to return for the season. In the week one tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Gordon caught one pass which was a 17-yard touchdown. For eeek two, he was listed as “out” after informing the team he tweaked his hamstring in a promotional shoot. Shortly thereafter, Cleveland announced they were planning to release Gordon this past Monday which later resulted in a trade with New England…And now here we are.

The Patriot Way

I love this move. Not only do I think it’s a great personnel move for the Patriots, but I truly do think (and hope) this is the place Josh Gordon needs to be to get his career and life back on track. Anyone who has ever played for the Patriots has gone on to say that it’s like a brotherhood. From ownership down, it’s such a close knit organization that shares one common goal: winning. Going from the Browns, who haven’t won a game in over a year, to the Patriots will be the difference he needs. You’re expected to be accountable for yourself in that locker room, while doing what’s best for the team. The leaders on the Patriots will take him under their wing to make sure he stays on track and embraces the Patriot Way.

This is a low risk, high reward move, as the Patriots gave up a fifth-round pick for Gordon. However, it’s only going to work if he makes it work. Talentwise, he’s what New England is dying for right now. With the hamstring injury that lead to his departure from Cleveland being ruled as “nothing serious,” Gordon could be available to play as early as this Sunday vs. Detroit. While Belichick and Brady won’t make any predictions about what Gordon will bring to this offense, we can all agree it has the incredible potential to be something lethal. Gordon has said it himself: “Given the opportunity, I believe I can prove my worth.”

New England is that opportunity.