BY Art Thiel 09:18PM 12/22/2020

Thiel: Seahawks again lose out on Josh Gordon

The NFL stunned the Seahawks Tuesday with news that WR Josh Gordon, activated Monday to play against the Rams, violated the terms of his reinstatement and can’t play.

WR Josh Gordon seemed set to play against the Rams Sunday. But no. / Rod Mar, Seahawks.com

Apparently, the Seahawks can’t count on Josh Gordon. Again.

A day after the NFL allowed him to return to the 53-man active roster ahead of the biggest game of the season Sunday against the Rams, the league stunned the club by disclosing that Gordon had not satisfied the terms of his conditional reinstatement, according to the Seattle Times Tuesday afternoon. Later, the league’s house organ, the NFL Network, reported that Gordon, 29, “had a setback in his battle with substance abuse and now won’t be allowed to practice or play indefinitely.”

The Seahawks relished the potential of the 6-3, 225-pound receiver teaming with the like-sized DK Metcalf to pit against the NFL’s top defense.

“We’re planning the week like he has a chance to contribute,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday. “We got to get him on the practice field and see what he looks like. He’s been working out really hard. I’ve been able to watch his workouts on video a couple times here. He seems that he’s in really good shape. We’re excited to see how he does.”

He looked that way a year ago too, in his first turn with the Seahawks, playing in five games with seven receptions for 139 yards after being claimed off waivers in November from New England. But on Dec. 16, the NFL’s testing protocol caught him using a street drug and a performance enhancer, and suspended the one-time All-Pro for the eighth time in his career, all for drugs, not misconduct.

News of his pending reinstatement came Dec. 3, which presumably meant he had stayed clean for the year since the suspension. The Seahawks signed the free agent in August for the veteran’s one-year minimum of $910,000 on the chance the he would be reinstated, then provide an offensive spark after another chance to play ball.

Gordon connected personally with QB Russell Wilson, and the two worked out together for a time in the off-season, and shared videos of their workouts on social media. The Seahawks kept tabs on Gordon, and were certain enough he was ready that they made roster room Monday by waiving WR Penny Hart, the fifth receiver this season. If he clears waivers, the Seahawks would likely bring Hart back.

That sort of chance seems unlikely now for Gordon, who can’t beat his demons no matter the support provided.

The league never gives specifics about what drugs were found, but players over the years have said privately that the tandem violation of a street drug and a PED is typically marijuana and Adderall. One is legal in Washington, and the other a controlled substance easily available by prescription. But the NFL has tighter rules about possession and usage. Gordon, as a member of the players union that agreed to the testing plan, is obliged to follow the rules.

When he returned to play last season, Gordon told reporters that the Seahawks were a good fit for him.

“It’s just the culture,” Gordon said. “It’s just different, something that I think has felt more like a fit, I guess. It’s hard to explain why I like it here.”

Just as it is hard to explain why Gordon can’t make it work.


YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    Too bad to hear. At this point Gordon needs to focus on getting his life back together and worry about a football career later. It’s too bad the Hawks didn’t go after Dante Pettis when he was being shopped.

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    • art thiel

      I know that Pettis hasn’t played well, and I imagine the Seahawks know better the reasons.

  • Alan Harrison

    What a waste. I hope he gets the help he needs and doesn’t spin out. But then, I hope that for everyone with substance issues. On a related subject, why is John Ursua persona non grata? All he did with Hawai’i and his few snaps with the Hawks was get open, catch the ball, and go crazy on special teams. Curious.

    • art thiel

      He began the season injured, remains on the practice squad, but I haven’t heard a health update.

  • BB46

    One would have to start believing that no matter the talent,,,, He isn’t going to be worth the risk. He just showed that he cannot be counted on. That’s what drugs and booze do. Not to all but to to many. That false feel good is impossible for some to ever beat. A guy with that talent and those physical gifts and they aren’t enough. When you look in a mirror and don’t like who’s looking back,,,, you can’t blame the mirror.
    Society is making it easier and easier to do so though. Pot legal here. Hard drugs now legal in Oregon,,,, And they have us worried about to much carbon in the atmosphere.

    • eyeroq

      Illegality never stopped a drug abuser from blaming the mirror and not themselves while in the depths of their addiction. I’m not sure why you think the laws play any role in whether a user accepts personal responsibility for their own use.

      • BB46

        There are people who will use “Legality” as a way to justify. Yes,,, the drug users. Like you I doubt it would really make a difference (At least to most) but “Hey, it’s legal” isn’t a good thing. Shouldn’t be.

        • art thiel

          What’s legal and what’s right can often be separate things.

          • BB46

            Exactly. and the mirror does nothing until someone is ready to see what’s really looking back (If ever) and then be willing to make the changes needed. Nobody is perfect. We all see our reflections and want to change something. Plus, no reflection is all bad. (I guess. LOL)

          • eyeroq

            It’s more complicated than that. Josh is long past the phase of the addict that lies to himself about his use and believes he can keep it under control while his life spirals out of control. He’s at the stage where he’s had to have engaged in honest self reflection on who he was and what he was becoming more times than he can count and absolutely hates himself for it. Constantly letting down those around him, especially loved ones depending on him financially, would have that effect. I have no doubt he was 100% committed in those moments of hitting rock bottom and commited himself 100% to clean up his life and change. How could he not given all the millions he’s lost and career opportunities he’ll never get back? We know he did make changes since we know he’s checked into long term treatment facilities and committed years of his life to recovery.

            But all it takes is one weak moment to trigger a relapse. An addict can have the best intentions, believe 100% they are doing all the things committed to get clean, yet still relapse. And every time he fails the intensity of his self loathing would grow. I’m sure he beats himself up daily for not being strong enough change and always letting people down. Addiction is a disease, it’s the only way to explain how a person like Josh would still be willing to risk getting high in spite of all the negative life consequences his addiction has caused him. Clearly there can be no coherent reason why you’d keep going back. The addict is no longer a rational actor, it’s pretty much gut reflex and natural instinct at that point.

      • art thiel

        Laws are typically created in response to problems, and provide consequences for violations, not cures.

    • art thiel

      The mirror works for some, not others. Without seeing a report from a clinician or a therapist, we’re all just guessing about Gordon’s specifics.

  • eyeroq

    I can’t imagine how horrific it must be watching the slow motion car wreck of your life unfold and feel powerless to avoid the outcome.

    • art thiel

      So many people have similar problems but don’t have Gordon’s profile. I hope Gordon can unlock the mystery. Might help others.

  • DonMac

    The NFL and this country’s rules/laws regarding drug use are so completely draconian and hypocritical. A person can be locked up for smoking marijuana or in the case of Josh Gordon denied the opportunity to pursue his profession. On the other, the NFL has no doubt helped to make the Sackler family the multi-billionaires that they’ve become by purchasing truckloads of the opioids manufactured at their Purdue Pharma laboratories for distribution to NFL players in order to keep them on the field with little concern for the long-term health impact this will have upon these men and the consequential effects this will have upon their families and friends and society at-large. The NFL sees nothing wrong with destroying a man by taking football away from him for smoking marijuana while at the same time enriching the most odious miscreants of corporate greed in order to medicate their players with opioids for sake of the money these players generate for the NFL. Godspeed Josh Gordon, you deserve better.

    • Husky73

      Personal responsibility.

      • art thiel

        It’s certainly part of the solution. It isn’t all of the solution.

        • Husky73

          It appears Mr. Gordon’s problems could be triggered by football. Perhaps he needs medical attention and counseling more than he needs football? I wish him the very best. He is a young man with his life ahead of him.

    • art thiel

      I can’t say for sure about prescription opioids being truckloaded onto innocent football players. Player health care has improved dramatically since changes to the CBA in 2011. That doesn’t mean players, especially retirees, aren’t going after their own street treatments.

      Regarding marijuana, NBA and MLB have liberalized their policies, and I suspect the NFL is next.

      I’d be careful about sweeping generalities.

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  • Hockeypuck

    With respect to the NFL’s whole drug use/disciplinary policy – it’s time for the league to stop propagating its antiquated, bullshit Leave It To Beaver imagery that everyone knows is a bald-faced lie.

    I have a difficult time believing that Adderall really enhances performance. If anything (in a sports setting with physical exertion) it can make you too jumpy and less able to act instinctively or intuitively. Superior physical ability and instincts/training are what separate the great player from the average one. In hockey they have a saying “the average player goes to where the puck is, the great player goes where the puck will be”. The combination of physical exertion and over-stimulation can impair decision-making and the ability to react instinctively. At least that has been my personal experience with ADHD meds.

    I don’t know specifics behind JG’s latest suspension, Adderall or other drug use. I can only assume Adderall wasn’t prescribed by a doctor or he would not have been suspended. But ongoing (therapeutic) doses of Adderall and marijuana use may be prescribed as treatment for a host of social-anxiety disorders that have reportedly plagued Josh Gordon from childhood. I realize there may be many other drugs and circumstances that render my thoughts as somewhat off base. But I wonder if this is REALLY about a bunch of Ward Cleaver-type NFL owners – whose understanding of pharmaceutical drug therapy is pulled directly from their 1960’s HS chemistry books – simply trying to maintain complete control of the league’s drug-use policy at all costs. And said owners being unwilling to have an intelligent dialogue about this issue out of fear the “inmates may end up running the prison ” (Bob McNair, Oct. 2017). It’s possibly that Josh Gordon is being made an example – with the implied threat that challenging league/owner diktats in any manner will be a career-ending move. Just ask Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid. No real benefit can become AG from this latest suspension – unless your real goal is to keep other “inmates” in line at all costs.

    Unfortunately, the NFLPA literally ceded this issue to Roger Goodell in the latest CBA – Ward Cleaver law applies. The milk-toast autocrats propagate their own outdated, indifferent and ineffectual “standards” at will. So players’ only recourse would be judicial. There are probably many circuit courts with a sympathetic ear regarding NLFPA’s argument against the NFL’s circumvention of state laws regarding random drug testing. Rest assured said courts would likely rule in favor of the players.

    The more I look at the NFL, the more I think it needs to be burned to the ground. Sounds far-fetched, but with favorable court rulings the CBA could be neutered and the league (in its current form) would cease to exist. A new business model would be established. One where NFL owners are driven from their plantations once and for all. Team ownership structure is more “Green Bay Packer like” and less “Jerry Jones like”. A model where players have the same rights enjoyed by and fought for by millions of workers in this country – and protection from the despots that so desperately want to control them.

  • woofer

    There is likely some sort of league rule against it, but it has long seemed obvious that the reclamation of Gordon was only going to succeed if there was a pro-active intervention. Just sitting back and hoping he would show up at the locker room clean wasn’t going to be enough. Based on what little we know, the guess here is that Gordon did well until he was on the actual verge of getting the suspension lifted, then he got panicky at the challenge immediately before him and regressed.

    A more realistic approach would have been to write into Gordon’s contract a provision allowing the team to assign to him a full-time sports psychologist and trainer as his companion, the cost to be charged against Gordon’s prospective wages. The companion would give him counseling, get him into playing shape, put him on a good diet and be there to step in when the temptation to escape into drugs arose.

    • art thiel

      My understanding is that the NFL and players union have agreed on a system of independent addiction counseling that that is available to drug-suspended players. The Seahawks and his agent have indicated over time that he’s in a treatment program. I’ve seen no indication that the interested parties are “just sitting back.” Your imagined view of how things typically work in these cases is just that.

  • 2nd place is 1st loser

    Good luck to Josh, but it’s time for the Hawks to cut bait.

    • art thiel

      Yeah, that’s the easy thing.

      • 2nd place is 1st loser

        No, that’s not the easy thing to do. But life is full of choices, choose wisely because one’s choices have consequences. There are plenty of professions that have zero tolerance for violating policy. I worked in one such industry that held personal accountability to an extreme. Why are athletes held to a higher standard while others in society are not afforded the same treatment?

        At what point is enough enough? He obviously has a substance abuse issue which he can’t seem to control. At what point does someone tell him that he’s no longer going to play in the NFL because of his inability to control his weakness. Good, bad or indifferent, at some point somebody has to stop holding his hand and deliver that message.

        • Husky73

          I don’t think releasing Gordon is the easy thing to do. But, it’s probably the right thing. Football seems to be a trigger.

          • art thiel

            It’s not football. It’s addiction.

        • art thiel

          Please watch the video in the comments and please tell me when enough is enough.

    • BB46

      Not sure it’s that time yet. His talent is rare. His problems far to common. There is going to be a time when the Hawks just won’t be able to invest any more. But his talent is worth a really good effort to get him help and right.

  • Guy K. Browne

    Nothing to say here but, best wishes to Josh Gordon. I wish he were suiting up Sunday, for a number of reasons but aside from that… well, nothing more to say.

    • art thiel

      He’s a complex dude, but very open about his trouble.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90YP4ntJUQs&feature=youtu.b

      • maoling

        I know a lot of persons have had it with the endless setbacks and falls off the wagon, but after watching this video, it’s hard for me to not keep rooting for the guy. I really hope he beats the demons — for himself, for his family and for those of us who are his fans.

        • art thiel

          Understanding a public figure is more work than making easy dismissals.

          • maoling

            Unfortunately we live in a society that doesn’t just paint with a broad brush, sometimes it uses a roller or sprayer to paint over things as quickly as possible. I hope he keeps battling. He seems like a genuinely reflective guy. Thanks for posting the vid.

  • maoling

    I wish the NFL would be more forthcoming about what happened in the space of 48 hours to make them rescind his reinstatement. If he failed to phone in to a counselor or didn’t dot every administrative “i” or cross every “t” and yet has passed all his drug tests, the NFL’s action seems harsh and heavy-handed. And with Pete saying they would take a look next week and see where he is at regarding his status, it would appear any rule he violated wasn’t one directly related to failing a drug test.