The NFL has come a long way with its policies on marjuana. Unfortunately, one of the best wide receivers in the NFL at one point and possibly one of the most talented and athletic players the NFL has ever seen in Josh Gordon had his career ruined by old marijuana rules and outdated policies. In 2020, the NFL removed the rule that allowed players to be suspended from games due to positive tests for marijuaaa use. Sadly, Gordon was one of the players who had to take the suspensions, hate, and punishment until these rules were seen as outdated. He was the unfortunate guinea pig for NFL marijuana suspensions but he also ran into some bad luck along the way that further decimated his once promising career.
Not too long ago in 2012 Josh Gordon was one of the best young wide receivers in the NFL. In just his rookie year on the Cleveland Browns he had 805 receiving yards and five touchdown catches. Following his rookie year, he was suspended for the first two games of his upcoming sophomore campaign for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy that wasn’t marijuana related. The next season after his two game suspension, he ended up leading the entire league in receiving yards with 1,646 yards and also added nine touchdowns that lead to him being chosen as a First Team All-Pro selection following the 2013 NFL season. Some might have claimed he was the best wide receiver in the NFL at that point and it would be hard to argue that he wasn’t after he led the entire league in receiving yards despite missing the first two games of the year.
The 2014 season is where Josh Gordon got into serious trouble with the NFL. Before the start of the season Gordon was arrested for a DWI as he was driving 50 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone, which almost all of us do pretty much on a regular basis. Unfortunately for Gordon, his blood alcohol level was .09, just .01 over the legal limit. This was a tough break and is many people’s nightmare of being pulled over after just a couple of beers and getting a DWI for it. It was an unfortunate event and probably unlucky even though it was technically against the law. Then, fast forward two months after that, Gordon was suspended for the entirety of the 2014 season for a failed marijuana test. That ruling was eventually overturned to just a ten game suspension and Gordon played in the final five games that year for the Browns where he had 25 catches for 303 yards.
Come the 2015 season and Gordon was suspended for the entire season again for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, this time for alcohol somehow. In that case it seems Rob Gronkowski should have been suspended every year after videos of him were going viral of chugging beer and hard alcohol at clubs and in public but it was what it was.
Now in the 2016 season, Gordon had to be reinstated yet again by the NFL. He ended up failing another drug test for marijuana before that could happen that did not allow him to be reinstated to start the year. Gordon had a four game suspension going into 2016 but elected to enroll himself into rehab instead for his drug and alcohol abuse.
At this point in his career it seemed that the one time best wide receivers in the NFL would never play another snap and he was fighting for reinstatement in 2017 yet again. In week 13 of the NFL regular season Gordon finally was back on the field for the Cleveland Browns and had 18 catches for 335 yards and a touchdown in five games that year.
In 2018, Gordon remained in stage 3 of the NFL’s substance abuse program which meant at any time he was subject to random drug testing, including for marijuana. This was just three years ago and marijuana was still getting players banned for entire seasons and ruining player’s careers. To start the 2018 season, Gordon played just one game for the Cleveland Browns before he was traded to the New England Patriots. Surely with the Patriots he would be free of suspension and distractions under Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the standout organization of which is the Patriots. He went on to play 11 more games that year for the Patriots but was then suspended yet again by the NFL for violating the terms of his reinstatement under the league’s substance-abuse policy. It was unclear if it was for marijuana or something else. That 2018 season the Patriots had to play the remainder of their games without Gordon but that proved to be irrelevant as they went on to win the Super Bowl which also earned Gordon a ring because he was on the team earlier that year.
The next season, in 2019, Gordon was again reinstated by the NFL. He started out the season playing six games with the sixth being with the Seattle Seahawks after he was waived by the Patriots and then signed to Seattle before he had more bad luck but this time it was in the form of a knee injury. The injury was enough to put Gordon out for the rest of the 2019 season. Another bad break for Gordon. Later on in 2019 during the season in December, Gordon was then suspended another time for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Despite the suspension, Gordon was re-signed by Seattle for the 2020 season and was reinstated starting December 3rd. The reinstatement was then shortly thereafter rescinded by the NFL after they found out that he had violated the terms of the reinstatement and it was yet another lost season for Gordon.
By this time, the NFL had already put in place new marijuana rules that did not allow a player to be suspended for a positive marijuna test. However, in Gordon’s case, under the new CBA rules that were put in place in March of 2020 he would not have been suspended for violating the league’s old substance abuse rules. Another bad break and bad timing for Josh Gordon as for him he was now suspended indefinitely by the NFL for his five previous suspensions. Now he would have to be reinstated by the NFL commissioner himself to be allowed to play again in the NFL. If he was to be reinstated, the old marijuana rules would still apply to him and only him, not any other player in the NFL. Very odd how the old rules would only apply to him but for any other player in the NFL with a positive marijuana test they would not face a suspension.
Come the 2021 NFL season and Josh Gordon was not on a team but was reinstated by the commissioner. All of this time and suspensions later and Gordon was still sought after by many NFL teams, reports say. Gordon decided to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs who have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and most explosive offenses. In his first game with the team he recorded one catch for 11 yards but has failed to record a catch in any other game so far this week heading into week 10. Who knows what is going on with Gordon this time but it seems that he may just be out of the wide receiver rotation in Kansas City or he is just not as good as some of the younger wide receivers in the NFL now. Gordon is now 30 years old which is pretty old for a wide receiver in this modern NFL.
Many people wonder what could have been with Josh Gordon if he was held to the 2020 marijuana rules to start his career as a rookie, or if he didn’t injure his knee, or now in 2021 if he signed with another team. Gordon seemed to have the worst luck out of any NFL player in history and it was sad to see as he was once the leading receiver in the entire NFL in just his second NFL season where he only played 14 games. Nowadays in the NFL, former and current players are more open about their marijuana use and none of them say it is a distraction or affects them in any negative way. In Josh Gordon’s case it affected his ability to stay in the NFL and not be suspended but also caused him mental issues as he believed that he had a real drug problem when now marijuana use is so casual and is seen as normal. Josh Gordon could be talked about right now as one of the best wide receivers to ever play the game if only he played in this new era or didn’t have those bad breaks. Gordon has only ended up playing 68 games in his career up to this point and it looks like this season could be one of his last after not seeing the field much. It just makes NFL and sports fans think “What if” about Josh Gordon.