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Josh Gordon begins Browns camp on non-football illness reserve list

July 24, 2018

Josh Gordon announced on Twitter Monday morning that he won’t be in attendance when the Browns report to training camp Wednesday, and the Browns confirmed he will begin camp on the non-football illness reserve list.

“To my Cleveland Browns and NFL family, Gordon’s Twitter thread began, “I am reaching out to you all personally and letting you know that I am not only doing great physically but mentally as well. You will notice that I will not be in Cleveland for the start of training camp. Rest assured this too is a part of my overall health and treatment plan.

“I appreciate the awesome support I have received from teammates, friends, fans, and the Brown’s organization. Just like you, I am excited to start the season and I have every intention of being ready and available to join my teammates soon to help bring winning football to our fans. With the help of the NFL, NFLPA, and the Browns’ organization, I have been able to utilize the resources available to me that will ensure my well-being on and off the field.

“By continuing to follow the plan set up by our medical director and his team and taking this time before this season starts, we believe it will help me maintain the progress I’ve made for not only today but for many years to come. Thank you all for your patience, love, and support! Go Browns! Sincerely, Josh Gordon.”

The Browns also released Gordon’s statement officially, along with one from John Dorsey.

“We will continue to support Josh as he receives the care needed to maintain his progress,” Dorsey’s statement reads. “We are going to respect his privacy while he is away from the team. Josh will be placed on the non-football illness reserve list until he is ready to return.”

The positive tone of Gordon’s and Dorsey’s messages paired with a tweet from NFL Media’s Tom Peliserro confirming ” he’s absolutely not suspended ” provides cautious optimism regarding Gordon’s absence.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reiterated the fact that Gordon didn’t have another slipup in the NFL’s substance-abuse program. Rather, his leave is a “proactive, defensive gesture to get extra counseling to try to ensure he does not have any of the setbacks that have marked his career. Those who know him say he has worked his a*s off.”

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said regarding Gordon that “there is no timetable. We’ll address the matter at the appropriate time.”

The NFL receiving leader in 2013, Gordon was conditionally reinstated last year and officially returned to the field in Week 13 from a series of substance-abuse suspensions that had prevented him from appearing in a regular-season game since November 2014.

Gordon, 27, appeared no worse for the wear last season following his long layoff, racking up 335 yards in only five games at a robust 18.5-yard clip, reminding everyone that, before his troubles began, he had quickly become one of the game’s most lethal downfield playmakers.

But Gordon also reminded, or shone a light on, the extent of his personal demons in an interview with GQ shortly upon returning to the field last year, in which he admitted he was “a highly functioning” alcoholic with a “ritual” that included being intoxicated in virtually every Browns game in which he played prior to receiving treatment.

That’s why Gordon’s decision to seek treatment before the season begins, while initially causing understandable pause and trepidation because of his past, should be celebrated. It certainly sounds like Gordon is committed to his recovery and, after a circuitous path, is determined to realize his unique potential.

Cleveland’s promising offseason under Dorsey has renewed hope for the NFL’s most dysfunctional franchise, but it’s clear that lame-duck coach Hue Jackson and new QBs Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield need Gordon on the field at his best for the offense to operate at peaky efficiency. That’s been a regular issue for Gordon and the club spanning three separate regimes now.

Gordon, originally a second-round supplemental draft pick in 2012, is slated to be a restricted free agent next offseason.

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