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Josh Gordon is returning to the NFL and he’s a totally new person

Embattled Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has been conditionally reinstated to the NFL.

Gordon can immediately begin participating in conditioning workouts and team meetings, can practice November 20th, and be fully eligible to play on November 27.

Josh Gordon burst onto the scene in 2012 as a relatively unknown rookie out of Baylor University. The next year, despite being suspended for the first two games of the season for testing positive for a banned substance, Josh Gordon led the league in receiving yards, breaking the NFL record for yards over a two, three, and four game span.

That’s when the trouble started.

Gordon only played five games in the 2014 season and was then suspended the entire 2015 season for various positive tests and a DUI.

During the 2016 preseason, one week away from being reinstated to the NFL, Gordon left the Browns to enter an in-patient rehab center. Gordon wrote at the time:

“After careful thought and deep consideration I’ve decided that I need to step away from pursuing my return to the Browns and my football career to enter an in-patient rehabilitation facility. This is the right decision for me and one that I hope will enable me to gain full control of my life and continue on a path to reach my full potential as a person. I appreciate the support of the NFL, NFLPA, the Browns, my teammates, my agent and the community through this extremely challenging process.”

Gordon’s long and arduous road to redemption seems to have taken a turn for the better recently. He sat down with LeBron James’ UNINTERRUPTED in a revealing video to talk about his journey, his addiction, and his latest steps to get back on the football field.

The wide receiver spoke openly about his past drug use:

“I’ve used alcohol on many, many occasions. Xanax on many occasions, cocaine several occasions, marijuana most of my life, codeine, cough syrup. Promethazine is very prevalent where I’m from. It’s what I grew up using.”

Gordon, who is training with former US track & field sprinter Tim Montgomery (one of the central figures of the BALCO scandal), is looking to make the best of his current circumstances and help others struggling with addiction:

“I’m in the position I’m in now and I’m grateful for it. I’m able to give this message and this opportunity for you to learn from my mistakes and for me to tell them my story.”

In the video, Gordon also talks about his coaches at Baylor helping him beat drug tests by giving him detox drinks:

“Not too long after I got arrested for possession of marijuana at Baylor, one of my coaches came by saying ‘You are going to get drug tested by the compliance office. This is how it’s going to work, this is what they are going to do. If they do call you in, here goes these bottles of detox.’”

This obviously shaped Gordon’s attitude about the seriousness of drugs and drug testing. He said, “That was my real first experience with getting over on the system and that authority not really being taken seriously because it was kind of being guided by somebody that’s employed by the same university.”

During Gordon’s first experience in rehab, he looked at it as a vacation, not taking the situation seriously at all,

“I was there for like 14, 15 days. It was a joke. It was pretty much a vacation. I had a bunch of gourmet meals and took a little break. Then got right back to work and led the league in receiving yards.”

Over the years, Gordon’s name has been dragged through the mud by the Stephen A. Smith’s of the world, but he’s a smart, eloquent, and analytical dude with some serious demons.

Seeing an athlete speak so openly about their struggles with addiction is inspiring and Gordon is now in a place to help others, professional athlete or not, deal with their own battles.

Not only is Gordon a good dude, he’s a transcendent talent. Kid could be a legitimate star in the NFL and at 26, he has plenty of opportunity to make up for lost time.

We hope Gordon gets back on the field, but more importantly that he finds his peace and keeps taking the steps to become the person he wants to be.

Keep doing the good work, JG.