If you were making a list of hardest occupations in all of sports, you'd have a tough time finding one more difficult than "Cleveland Browns fan," especially when you consider that it's a job where the only compensation is a lifetime of ridicule and misery.
Since returning to the league in 1999 as a franchise, the Browns have employed over 20 starting quarterbacks, a cycle of suck that has resulted in one playoff berth and a mountain of painful fall Sundays.
The selection of Johnny Manziel in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft was supposed to end this cycle of sports bloodshed, but we know how that's going. Now, another native Texan is sealing this as one of the worst weeks in the history of being a Browns fan (which is saying something).
On Monday, the league announced that wide receiver Josh Gordon would be suspended without pay for the entire 2015 season (at least) because of another violation of the league's substance abuse policy.
And this time, the Browns seem like they're pretty much done with the Houston native and graduate of Lamar High School.
On January 25, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Gordon had failed a league-issued substance abuse test for alcohol. Gordon was operating under a zero tolerance, no drink policy with the league in the wake of two other NFL imposed suspensions. Gordon also was suspended by the team for the final week of the 2014 season for missing team activities.
Cleveland general manager Ray Farmer did not mince words in his statement about Gordon's situation:
"As we have conveyed, we are disappointed to once again be at this point with Josh. Throughout his career we have tried to assist him in getting support like we would with any member of our organization. Unfortunately our efforts have not resonated with him. It is evident that Josh needs to make some substantial strides to live up to the positive culture we are trying to build this football team upon.
"Our hope is that this suspension affords Josh the opportunity to gain some clarity in determining what he wants to accomplish moving forward and if he wants a career in the National Football League. We will have no further comment on Josh as he will not be permitted in our facility for the duration of his suspension."
Gordon's off field issues continue to cost him literally millions of dollars, not only in contractually agreed to money with the Browns, but potential next-contract dollars in eventual free agency.
Gordon was slated to make $1.07 million in 2015, but now obviously will not. That amount will not count against the Browns' salary cap. Gordon signed a four year deal in 2012 worth over $5 million, including a signing bonus of $2.3 million. He'll be required to forfeit a prorated portion of that bonus, around $564,000.
Also, Gordon's free agency clock has been pushed back from after the 2015 season to after the 2016 season because of his previous suspensions. He will have to apply to the league for reinstatement before the 2016 season.
When he's been able to get on the field, Gordon has flashed All Pro ability, including a 2013 season in which he caught 87 balls for 1,646 yards, good enough to be named first team All Pro. He struggled in 2014, playing in only five games after returning from suspension, going over 50 yards in only three of those games, and scoring exactly zero touchdowns.
Gordon's off field issues are well documented. On July 5, 2014, he was arrested and charged with driving while impaired after speeding down a street in Raleigh, NC. He pleaded guilty in September and in lieu of a 60-day suspended jail sentence, he received 12 months of unsupervised probation, a $100 fine and $290 in court costs, and also had his driver's license suspended.
Back in college, during his sophomore year at Baylor, he and former teammate Willie Jefferson were arrested for falling asleep at a Taco Bell drive thru. Police found marijuana in the car, Jefferson was expelled, and Gordon was suspended. (Jefferson was on his second offense. Gordon was a first time offender.)
In July 2011, he was suspended indefinitely by Baylor head coach Art Briles for failing a marijuana test. He transferred to Utah, but never played a down there, instead declaring for the 2012 supplemental draft.
In a first-person open letter published by a website called Medium last week, Gordon took umbrage to his portrayal in the media, insisting he is not an alcoholic or a drug addict. "I failed the [alcohol] test, obviously, and the rest is history ... colored by media speculation and faux outrage," Gordon said in the letter.
"In the end, of course, I failed myself."
At least Josh Gordon got one thing right in the last couple weeks.
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