Marijuana, the NFL and Josh Gordon

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Dec 8, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) warms up before the start of the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note: This article was written back in February when marijuana use was being talked about all over the place. With the reported Josh Gordon suspension I am reposting it today for those who haven’t read it.

(Note: The goal of this article is not to promote the use of any substances, encourage the legalization of marijuana nor to convince anyone that the substance should be illegal.)

Marijuana use became a storyline as the Super Bowl approached as two teams from states that have legalized the substance squared off. Jokes were made, GIFs were created and story-lines were meshed together in the blogosphere. Since the big game ended 2 defensive players have spoke out on the subject, Ryan Clark and Antonio Cromartie. Both generalized that players would continue to use the substance, Cromartie, and that the substance was used as a stress and pain reliever, Clark.

This issue will continue to be a part of discussion as the United States continues to be divided on the subject. In the NFL marijuana is an issue as it is against the Collective Bargaining Agreement and can cause problems for players and teams, as Cleveland Browns fans are well aware with the on going concerns related to Josh Gordon’s history. Today we will cover this issue from 2 aspects: 1) Gordon and concerns for the Browns and 2) Understanding of the substance from this writers’ 12 year history as a professional counselor work, in part, with people with substance use problems. Lets start with Gordon:

The Josh Gordon Dilemma

Gordon broke out as one of the biggest offensive stars in the NFL last year. He led the NFL in receiving yards while dealing with 3 different quarterbacks, with different levels of talent, throwing him the ball. He also did this in only 14 games due to a 2 game suspension for a violation of the substance abuse policies of the NFL. Nothing was confirmed by the league or the team, but Gordon reported that the violation was due to use of cough syrup. Codeine without a prescription is on the banned list as well.

For the Browns Gordon presents a dilemma. He is a high performing player on a rookie contract that at any day could be suspended for an entire year. There is no way for the Browns to get fair value in return for Gordon, even following his breakout season. Currently without the looming suspension Gordon would be untouchable. If for some reason the Browns did look to trade him they would be able to demand at least a 1st and 2nd rounder, but more likely a number of picks including 2 first rounders would be a reasonable return to expect. With the possibility of being suspended for a year the Browns most likely could acquire a mid to low first round pick, at the highest.

The Browns will have to push their luck with Gordon and gamble on his ability to stay clean. Does Gordon’s history in college show he has a problem with marijuana? Does his recent suspension, reportedly for cough syrup, show he has a problem with substances in general? Is he unable to deal with stresses or have fun without a substance?Or does he just suffer from poor choices and decision making? The Browns will have to put the effort and work in to minimize their risk in this gamble. Davone Bess was their first attempt at surrounding him with positive influences, so far that seems to be the worst choice possible, given Bess’ social media usage.

(Obviously it looks like Gordon will be suspended)

Next we will look at marijuana from a professional angle. Again this is not a article to support the legalization of the substance, nor is the attempt to convince anyone that it should remain illegal. Instead its goal is to provide information, facts and anecdotal stories related to the substance.