Browns' Josh Gordon fires back at critics with letter to fans
Detroit Lions cornerback Cassius Vaughn (29) knocks a pass away from Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) during NFL play at Ford Field. (Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports)
In an open letter posted online, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon fired back at critics, explained the circumstances that led to his latest suspension by the NFL and expressed regret for bad decisions throughout his life.
Gordon, who sat out the first 10 games of the 2014 season on a suspension for a failed marijuana test and a DUI, is facing a one-year ban after failing another drug test.
In the letter posted on Medium.com, Gordon called out sports media celebrities Charles Barkley, Cris Carter and Stephen A. Smith for their criticisms of Gordon. The 23-year-old said they had no right to criticize someone they had never met.
Gordon -- who in 2013 caught 87 passes for 1,646 yards and 14 touchdowns -- admitted he had failed the team, his family, his friends and himself.
"Words cannot express the remorse and regret I feel over this latest incident," he wrote. "I acknowledge that the repeated transgressions that have led up to this point have damaged my credibility, and for that, the only person to blame is me."
Gordon explained in detail each of his transgressions that have led to his current precarious status with the NFL.
Of the 10-game suspension last season, he said eight games were assessed for a failed marijuana test caused by "inadvertently inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke" last offseason. He said he has not smoked pot himself since 2012.
The two other games of the suspension stemmed from a DUI. He said the league agreed to reduce a four-game suspension because his blood-alcohol level was just .01 over the legal limit.
Gordon said the latest failed test was the result of drinking with teammates on a flight to Las Vegas on Jan. 2. He received notice to take a drug test as soon as he landed in Las Vegas.
"As a strict condition to my reinstatement in Week 12, I had to agree not only to abstain from drinking for the rest of the season but also to submit to an alcohol screen as part of my in-season drug testing under the league's substance-abuse protocol," he wrote. "Did I think that was excessive given I had never had any issue whatsoever with alcohol? Yes. Did I think it was hypocritical that a professional league making hundreds of millions of dollars off beer sponsorships was telling me not to drink? Yes. Did I so much as blink at the condition? No.
"It doesn't matter if I thought that the league-imposed restriction on drinking had expired at the end of the regular season; what matters is that I didn't confirm whether or not that was the case. Now, that oversight has further jeopardized my relationship with my team and our fans, my reputation, and maybe even my career."
Gordon concluded his letter by saying, "I am not a drug addict; I am not an alcoholic; I am not someone who deserves to be dissected and analyzed like some tragic example of everything that can possibly go wrong for a professional athlete.
"If I have a problem, it is that I am only 23 years old -- with a lot left to learn. ... And I truly believe that what I am going through right now will only make me stronger. I believe that my future is bright."