Josh Gordon’s Reinstatement is No-Brainer for Roger Goodell

News of Josh Gordon’s recent meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and potential reinstatement on August 1 has the Cleveland Browns on the verge of gaining or permanently losing one of the most gifted receivers in the league. After missing the majority of the last two seasons because of drug and alcohol violations, Gordon unsurprisingly failed another drug test in March before he could apply for reinstatement at the start of the new league year in April.

With so much on the line, the failure is the latest example of the pure stupidity and completely inexcusable behavior exhibited by Gordon throughout his football career. Because he’s a repeat offender it’s hard to imagine the NFL giving in and allowing him back, but we’re living in a world that mostly defies common sense.

Outside of broken promises, Gordon has done very little to prove he has learned from those multiple suspensions, and that’s pretty clear after that failed drug test in March. Goodell didn’t sound like a guy ready to show mercy, either, when he spoke on the receiver during a Super Bowl 50 media availability in February.

“The process is that we’ll go back and we’ll look at how he’s conducted himself over the last several months, what he’s done to make sure it’s consistent with the terms of a suspension and at some stage, we’ll have a report on that and I will engage with our people to understand where he is, where he’s been but most importantly where he’s going. When these things happen, it’s about trying to avoid them in the future. Our number one issue here is to prevent these things from happening. I’m hopeful that Josh understands that he’s going to have to conduct himself differently going forward to be a member of the NFL and to be representing the Cleveland Browns, or any team in the NFL.”

So why could Gordon get a pardon by a commissioner whose grasp continues to stifle nonconformity around the league? Gordon is a repeat offender, both as a student athlete in college and as a professional in Goodell’s league. He has been punished to every possible degree, was kicked out of the league entirely, and THEN he failed ANOTHER drug test.

Let me be clear, Josh Gordon probably doesn’t deserve another chance. He has been the definition of what the league is attempting to move away from. His defiance and continued presence would be a big smudge on the image it’s trying to portray. Enabling him like many others is probably not a good idea, and it makes sense for Goodell to uphold his suspension indefinitely.

But the league would also look really, really good and ultimately benefit from having a reformed Gordon on the field and producing at a high level. When on the field, Gordon changes outcomes and makes the type of game-altering plays that make headlines and sell merchandise. That’s why there’s still hope for him and the Browns. The bottom line of the league’s brand is the most powerful decision maker in the business.

What could be better for business than showing the world the prowess of the league’s excessive authoritarian model? See, suspensions and excessive fines really do yield results and change lives!

And if he does drugs and fails another test? The NFL can easily wash their hands of him forever. The next time you’d hear the name Josh Gordon would be during the eventual “30 for 30” on ESPN.

Reinstating him is no-brainer that’s all upside for the NFL, the Browns, and for Josh Gordon.

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Mike Hoag

Mike Hoag

Managing Editor
Mike Hoag has been covering the Cleveland Browns since 2011. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, Yahoo! Sports,,,, and The Orange and Brown Report.
  • William Scott Eltzroth

    The N.F.L. has no right to try to control what the players do on their own time. These are men not robots. As long as they aren’t using performance enhancing drugs to gain an edge then it`s no one`s business what they do. Mike Hoag how would you react if your employer told you that you cant drink alcohol if you want to keep on working on your job? Maybe a surprise urine test now and then within a moments notice?