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Opinion: Patriots' Josh Gordon needs to make the most of his latest chance  1 Month ago

Source:   USA Today  

Josh Gordon is getting another chance. 

The NFL announced on Friday evening that the talented but troubled wide receiver will receive a conditional reinstatement, putting an end to the indefinite suspension he received late in the 2018 season. 

“We are all rooting for Josh to succeed, both personally and professionally," Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "Everyone shares in that hope and will continue to support him to every extent possible. But as Josh acknowledged, ultimately his success is up to him."

Conditions of that reinstatement weren’t initially known, however. 

But Gordon can now rejoin the New England Patriots and prepare for the season. However, because he hasn’t been through adequate conditioning, he’s not eligible to play in the Aug. 22 preseason game. 

Now, as Gordon gets back to work, we’ll see if he can finally find some stability both personally and professionally. 

Repeated failed drug tests for marijuana use and subsequent suspensions have represented a common theme of Gordon’s five-year career.  

But when he has managed to get on the field, his size and athleticism has made him a dynamic threat. His play-making days have just come at a far too infrequent rate. 

After four-plus seasons with Cleveland, he was traded to New England last season, and he played in 11 games before receiving his latest suspension. 

Initially, it was believed that a strong organization like the Patriots could offer the support and discipline that Gordon needed. 

But Gordon’s struggles continued and as the Patriots made a charge through the postseason to the Super Bowl, the wide receiver could only watch from a rehab facility in Florida. 

Now, six months later, he’ll try again to resume his career. 

The Patriots need him. They have little experience and few proven game changers at the receiver position. 

But Gordon probably needs the Patriots even more. 

The support of his teammates and the structure and demands of the season and organization could be the very thing that he needs to help him remain clean. 

It’s true that he failed to do so during previous seasons. But perhaps this episode comes with a breakthrough. 

According to reports citing people familiar with Gordon’s situation, his problems run deeper than a recurring weed habit. It’s believed that the drug was only a surface problem. 

Many NFL players have felt like the league needs to do away with testing and punishment for marijuana use because many states have legalized its use. 

But Gordon needs more than lenient drug policies. He needs to surround himself with people that care about Josh Gordon the man, more than Gordon the player.

Such individuals potentially are in that Patriots locker room. 

For Gordon’s sake, let’s hope that his time away from the game, and the counseling he received in rehab have helped him conquer the demons that plagued him. And maybe the Patriots and a return to the NFL can help him continue on that journey. 

If Gordon can gain greater internal well-being, then maybe he will come to a place where he can finally live up to his potential on the football field. 

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