Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon continues to face up to his demons and talk about his struggles with addiction. After a video segment with LeBron James’ UNDEFEATED, Gordon gave an interview with GQ and spoke on addiction, rehab, and wanting to be a better man for his family.
The most quoted part of the interview was the revelation that Gordon used before games. He described his own ‘ritual’ of getting high before games.
“I used to make a ritual of it before every game. If I had already been drug tested that week, or the day before the game, I knew I had a couple days to buy to clean my system. Even before I was getting tested for alcohol, prior to my DWI in 2014, I would take the biggest bong rip I could. And try to conceal all the smell off all my clothes. I’d be dressed up to go to the game. A bunch of guys smoke weed before the game. But we’re not talking about them.”
Gordon claimed that he used before every game of his career,
“I would have these little pre-made shots. I used to love Grand Marnier. I could drink it down smooth. I could usually drink a lot of it. But if it wasn’t that, it might be a whiskey or something. And I would drink probably like half a glass, or a couple shots to try and warm my system up, basically. To get the motor running. That’s what I would do for games.”
While it’s clear that the high pressure nature of his job in the NFL contributed to Gordon’s drug and alcohol use, Gordon described how he first started smoking weed and taking Xanax in 7th grade to deal with social anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.
The star wide receiver, who is still only 26, also talked about the scrutiny from fans and how everyone thinks about Gordon’s struggles from a football perspective. Gordon told GQ he had to get out of Cleveland because of the treatment by fans, but also hoped that people would understand that this battle isn’t about Josh Gordon the football player, but Josh Gordon the man,
“Everything is an immediate gratification process. Especially for fans. If you don’t produce, you’re fired, you’re done. It’s so hard to try to take that and then add the humanity. I came into the NFL at 20 years old. I couldn’t imagine many people doing that type of thing with success. Give guys a chance. Be patient. Allow him to see it through. If he lets you down, he lets you down. But know that’s a human being there. He’s dealing with something.”
As Gordon reveals more about the extent of his struggles with addiction, the tale becomes more and more sad, hopefully he’s truly on the right path to being the man he wants to be, regardless of whether he gets back to his previous levels of performance on the football field.
But Gordon is far from the first athlete to use during their careers.
Many players have gotten loaded before or during games. The following list isn’t to honor or praise people who were fucked up while doing their jobs, but rather cautionary tails about the realities of drug use and alcohol in the high pressure world of sports.
Dock Ellis throws a no-hitter on LSD
On June 23th, 1970 Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres while on a bunch of acid. The day of the game, Ellis had been on a bender, thinking he had a off day. He took acid at noon but a friend saw in the paper that Ellis was supposed to pitch that day.
So Ellis took the mound while tripping balls. He described his outing that day,
“I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria. I was zeroed in on the [catcher’s] glove, but I didn’t hit the glove too much. I remember hitting a couple of batters, and the bases were loaded two or three times. The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes, I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him.”
Doc Ellis would later get clean and become a mentor for young players dealing with substance abuse issues. He passed away in 2008 at the age of 63.
Ron Artest drank Henny during halftime
Over the years, Metta World Peace has gone from NBA badboy to respected veteran of the game. Now, World Peace is a coach in G-League, but he used to be one of the wildest dudes in the league.
The Queensbridge native told the Sporting News in a 2009 interview that he used to drink during halftime when he first came in the league, “I used to drink Hennessy … at halftime. I [kept it] in my locker. I’d just walk to the liquor store and get it.”
Keep the Henny for after the game.
Bernie Carbo was high as shit in the World Series
The Red Sox were facing elimination in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Down 3 runs to the Reds in the 8th, Bernie Carbo was called to pinch hit. Carbo slugged a 3-run homer to tie the game. Carlton Fisk later won the game with his infamous foul pole homer in the 12th, but the Sox fell in Game 7.
Regardless, Carbo was a temporary hero. But he was off the shits when he came up to the plate. He told the Boston Globe in 2010 about his pregame routine,
“I probably smoked two joints, drank about three or four beers, got to the ballpark, took some [amphetamines], took a pain pill, drank a cup of coffee, chewed some tobacco, had a cigarette, and got up to the plate and hit.”
After battling addiction throughout his career and leaving baseball by 33, Carbo found God, got sober, and is now a minister.
Packers Fuzzy Thurston drank vodka before Ice Bowl
The Wisconsin native Fuzzy Thurston was revered in Green Bay for his role on the Vince Lombardi Packers teams. The 6-time NFL Champion (and winner of the first two Super Bowls) was a key member of the powerful Green Bay offensive line.
During an interview with ESPN, when asked how he prepared for the infamous 1967 ‘Ice Bowl,’ Thurston responded that he downed “about 10 vodkas” to play in the 15 below zero temperatures.
After his career, Fuzzy owned a popular sports bar in Green Bay and was a local legend. He passed away in 2014 due to complications from Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Hall of Famer Tim Raines played with coke in his back pocket
The infamous image of outfielder Tim Raines, one of the best talents in baseball during the 80s, sliding headfirst into bases as to avoid breaking the cocaine vial in his back pocket has become baseball lore.
While that story may be slightly exaggerated, Raines did use during the beginning of his career. He’d often duck into the clubhouse during innings to get a taste. Raines described one at bat in particular where he was literally seeing shit that forced him to change,
“I remember in an at bat. The only reason why I remember this is because the guy threw me a pitch and I ducked out of the way like the ball was going to hit me. The umpire called it a strike and I looked back at the umpire like ‘The ball almost hit me.’ And he goes ‘The ball is right down the middle of the plate.’ I’m like, ‘Huh? Either you’re blind or I’m blind.'”
Earlier this year, Tim Raines was elected to the Hall of Fame in his last year of eligibility.