Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon insisted he has his priorities straight while addressing the media today for the first time since the NFL suspended him two games and fined him four game checks for violating its substance-abuse policy.
“My priorities are definitely in order, definitely in line,” Gordon said. “I still got a job to come out here and do every day. I’ve got to be accountable and be a grown man, help provide for me and my family. So I do definitely have my priorities in order.”
Gordon was at the Browns' training facility this afternoon as rookies and select veterans practiced. The team will hold its first full-squad practice Thursday, when camp opens to the public.
While facing questions from reporters, Gordon repeatedly referred to the following statement he issued June 7 after the league handed down the suspension. “In February, I was diagnosed with strep throat for which a doctor prescribed antibiotics and cough medicine. Apparently, the medicine I took contained codeine, which is prohibited by the NFL policy. The policy terms are strict about unintentional ingestion, but the NFL has not imposed the maximum punishment in light of the facts of my case. Therefore, I have chosen to be immediately accountable for the situation. I sincerely apologize for the impact on my team, coaches, and Browns fans. I look forward to working hard in training camp and preseason, and contributing immediately when I return in Week 3.”
When asked today if he has as substance-abuse issue, Gordon said, “It wasn’t recreational use.”
Was he surprised about the suspension?
“The fact that it happened, it was beyond me,” Gordon said. “It was one of those things you just really couldn’t control. The statement of it actually already came out in my previous statement in June, and there’s not too much I can comment on.”
Gordon failed three marijuana tests in college, two at Baylor University and another at the University of Utah, before former Browns General Manager Tom Heckert picked him in the second round of last year's supplemental draft. Because of Gordon's history of drug use and his recent suspension, he realizes he must earn the trust of the new regime and the fans.
“It’s something that’s in the past,” Gordon said. “It’s still going to gloom over me for a long time. But I’ve still got a long way to go, a lot to prove to the fans here, to the people here. It’s just another obstacle in my way of getting there.”
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said he expects Gordon to move forward the right way.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed in the situation," Chudzinski said. "It's important that Josh understands what my expectations are. I've talked to him about that. He understands accountability, and I expect him to work and do everything he can to be the very best player he can be in the meantime, and we'll go from there."
Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden also talked to Gordon about the suspension.
"He’s a mature guy," Weeden said. "He knows he made a mistake. But I’m not going to beat a dead horse. There’s no reason for me to harp on it. I just told him this team needs him and pretty much left it at that. He knows that. He’ll be excited come Week Three. I don’t mean to put words in his mouth, but he’ll learn from his mistake."
Gordon, who had 50 receptions for a team-high 805 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie, reiterated the apology he made in his original statement.
“I need to apologize to the team, Browns fans, the coaching staff here, my family and friends,” Gordon said. “There’s a lot of people dealing with it, but I’m definitely planning to move on from it.”
Gordon also apologized for irritating Cleveland sports fans on Twitter this summer by bragging about being a Miami Heat fan and flaunting his desire to celebrate their most recent NBA title with LeBron James.