SAN FRANCISCO—Josh Gordon’s headline-laden NFL career took another turn on Monday, January 26, after reports surfaced that he violated the league’s substance abuse policy again.
The positive test marked the talented receiver’s sixth in his three-year NFL career, throwing into question whether the 23-year-old will ever play professional football again.
For others, like NBA hall-of-famer Charles Barkley, Gordon’s substance abuse issues threaten much, much more.
“This is very personal to me,” Barkley said on ESPN’s His and Hers. “My Brother is dead. He died in his early 40s, so I take all the drug stuff seriously. And Josh Gordon is going to die if he keeps going on this road he’s going.”
“I love my brother, I miss my brother, but when you get involved with alcohol and drugs and you can’t control it, you look at Philip Seymour Hoffman, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”
Considered a prime target for several teams, including the 49ers, Gordon will now face an indefinite ban from the NFL, one in which he will be severed from the support systems offered by the league and it’s franchises.
Gordon’s substance abuse issues date back to his college career at Baylor, resulting in the forfeiture of his senior season of eligibility and compelling him to enter the NFL’s Supplemental Draft.
As dynamic a young pass-catching threat as the league has seen, Gordon may yet see a redemptive story similar to that of retired running back Ricky Williams or current Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones.
At 23, Gordon can stand to take a year away from football if it means conquering his demons. Promises of fame and fortune didn’t keep Gordon away from drugs and alcohol. Perhaps losing it all might.