Josh Gordon has it all. Or, I should say, had it all, because his immaturity threatens to ruin all he has worked so hard to achieve.
He’d made mistakes early in life. Who hasn’t, though? Yet he looked like a man who was prepared to go beyond his mistakes and settle into the life of an athlete with fame and money. He was on the precipice of both.
Perhaps no more.
Gordon, the All-Pro wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, had another brush with marijuana about a week ago. None of the reports cited him for using the illegal drug himself this time, but a passenger in his Mercedes SUV, which an Ohio county sheriff stopped for speeding on Interstate 71, apparently was.
The speeding stop first: It was Gordon’s third in the past year, according to various media reports. He’s been piling up the points on his driving record the way he piled up yardage last season on the football field. The difference here, however, is that his point total on the road could cost him his driving privileges.
Maybe that’s not a big deal to him. Gordon has the money to pay one of his partners to chauffeur him around, and if he finds a condo or house near where the Browns practice, he can walk to training camp, which would make the highway safer for drivers who prefer to stay closer to the speed limit and not go 14 miles per hour over it.
Let’s excuse his need for speed. Athletes are thrill seekers and pushing a high-performance car like a Mercedes to its limits might have appeal, as reckless and as selfish as that sort of driving is. No one should put others at risk because he cares more about himself and his joys than he does about others around him.
But then you wonder how much Josh Gordon cares about himself. He has a love affair with marijuana that dates to this college days. He’s a modern-day “potaholic,” a man addicted to it as if it were a harder drug like crack or heroin.
As a society, we don’t look at pot anymore in the way we look at harder drugs. In the past year alone, we’ve watched the states of Colorado and Washington make use of pot legal. The two states tax the hell out of the product, filling their coffers with revenue that had once gone to the pushers.
No U.S. sport has given approval for its athletes to use pot, and the state of Ohio, a red state in so many respects, isn’t about to either.
It isn’t what Ohioans think of pot that is Gordon’s problem. His problem is what NFL officials think of it, and the league has made it clear: No use of pot is tolerated.
Doubtless, the NFL has given Gordon a memo about what drugs are approved for use and which are not. From everything you’ve heard about the NFL, pot is not mentioned as approved.
If Gordon misplaced his copy of the memo, he’s heard the drug policy from the Browns and from the players’ union. Both have offered him help since his two-game suspension last season for not adhering to the drug policy.
It seems as if two games weren’t enough. Nor were the four paychecks he was docked for the 2013 infraction. Now, he’s looking at stiffer punishment. Gordon is facing a season-long suspension for failing a drug test, something that he’s had trouble passing since his college days.
Let’s not blow our pity on athletes like Gordon. He’s made an “adult” decision. He loves pot too much to give it up, and if it means he has to give up an NFL career and the riches that come with playing a star’s role, he’s made that choice as well. It’s his life, and we should accept, even if we disagree with it, a grown man’s right to live his life on a fool’s terms.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo : Jim Rogash/Getty Images)