Former Browns wide receiver Greg Little made a cryptic statement Thursday night about the potential one-year suspension looming over his friend and former teammate, All-Pro Josh Gordon, like a dark cloud.
Two weeks ago, ESPN reported that Gordon had failed a drug test for marijuana and was in jeopardy of receiving a season-long ban from the NFL because he was already in the league’s substance-abuse program.
“He’s doing well. He’s a guy who is going to work to get back and show that this is a mistake,” Little, who was recently claimed by the Oakland Raiders after being cut by the Browns last week, said during a radio interview with SiriusXM NFL. “It’s something that wasn’t in his control, so-to-speak. I don’t want to get into too much detail about it.”
Little said he speaks to Gordon multiple times a day. So Little’s vague comment has led some to speculate that Gordon might have actually missed a random drug test, which would count as a positive result under the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Gordon declined to speak to reporters Wednesday after the second practice of organized team activities. The Browns have avoided addressing the specifics of the ordeal.
The franchise, though, is bracing for life without Gordon, as evidenced by General Manager Ray Farmer signing veteran receivers Miles Austin and Earl Bennett last week.
Meanwhile, Gordon is appealing in an effort to get the suspension reduced to four to six games, Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo reported.
Last year, Gordon received a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, prompting former Browns CEO Joe Banner to say, “the rope that’s left isn’t long” for the 23-year-old Pro Bowler. The new regime, however, intends to keep Gordon at least through 2015, the final year of his rookie contract. Last week, owner Jimmy Haslam said the Browns are counting on Gordon to remain with the organization “for a long time to come.”
Said Little: “I applaud the Browns for sticking by his side.”
Miles Austin is new to Cleveland, but he has quickly formed a bond with legendary Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar.
Austin, a member of the Dallas Cowboys for the past eight seasons, wanted to wear jersey No. 19 like he had before. So out of respect for Kosar, who donned No. 19 when he helped the Browns reach back-to-back AFC Championship games during the 1986 and 1987 seasons, Austin contacted the former Pro Bowl quarterback this past weekend to ask for his blessing. The only Browns player to wear No. 19 since Kosar was cut in 1993 was wide receiver Frisman Jackson in 2004.
Kosar gave his approval and later met with Austin for dinner Thursday night.
“Had a Great Time at Dinner with A Class Person Miles,” Kosar tweeted along with a photograph of he and Austin sitting together at a table in a restaurant. A piece of cake can be seen in front of Kosar and Austin, and “#19” is written on the plate in chocolate.
Austin wasn’t obligated to reach out to anyone for permission to wear No. 19, but he has certainly endeared himself to Kosar and Browns fans by doing so.
“I know how much the number means to him and the city of Cleveland, and I also know how much the number means to me,” Austin, whose one-year deal with the Browns is reportedly worth $2 million, including $300,000 guaranteed, said Wednesday. “I never want to step on anyone’s toes coming anywhere. So I thought it was the right thing to do to reach out to him and basically tell him how much I think of him and also let him know how much pride I take in the game as well.
“I told him I looked up to him and I’d do everything I could to make him proud if he allowed me to wear it. And if he didn’t allow me to wear it, I would have to find another number. I don’t know which one it would be, but thankfully he was more than happy. He said, ‘Yeah, no problem.’ ”
Austin wore No. 14 as a rookie with the Cowboys in 2006 and planned to keep the number the following season until the organization acquired veteran quarterback Brad Johnson. Having worn No. 14 throughout his long career, Johnson was even willing to pay Austin to let him have the number when he joined the Cowboys.
“I was like, ‘You don’t got to pay me a thing, man. Go ahead. You take it.’ And that’s when I took 19. I had that for seven years,” Austin said. “Thankfully, Bernie was kind enough to show me the same courtesy I gave Brad. It was nice, really nice of him. He’s a classy guy, and I’m just glad he gave me the opportunity to wear it.”
Browns free safety Tashaun Gipson believes his third NFL season could “absolutely” result in his first trip to the Pro Bowl.
“I definitely think there are things I can accomplish in this defense,” Gipson said Wednesday. “It’s a nice defense, and it fits my skill set very well. I think it’s a very good possibility. I’ve just got to capitalize on the plays that come my way. No missed opportunities.”
Strong safety Donte Whitner made the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons before signing with the Browns in March, and he is convinced that Gipson has what it takes to become elite.
“When you get here and you start to play with a guy, you see his mannerisms, you see his work ethic inside the classroom and on the football field, then you start to understand who he is,” Whiter said Wednesday. “He’s an extremely hard worker. I didn’t know he was 23 years old, a very extremely young guy for the things that he achieved in the league already. I’m just here to get across that water, and when I say get across that water, let’s get to the Pro Bowl. When you get to the Pro Bowl, that means that you’ve stepped your game up to another level, and that’s what I’m here to help him do.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.