Josh Gordon reinstatement: Why NFL could lift suspension of wide receiver — again



Josh Gordon could once again be up for reinstatement by the NFL after completing his league-monitored treatment program, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday. It’s still up to commissioner Roger Goodell to lift Gordon’s suspension, whom the NFLPA has asked to reinstate the uber-talented receiver.

MORE: Josh Gordon timeline: How WR’s career path led him to latest suspension, new chance with Seahawks

Gordon’s potential reinstatement represents the latest chapter in his winding, halting NFL career; when he has been able to play, Gordon has shown himself to be one of the most talented receivers in the league. His struggles with substance abuse and resulting NFL suspensions have dominated his time in the league, however. Whether he can stay off the commissioner’s exempt list for good this time — if he’s even reinstated at all — remains to be seen.

With that, Sporting News breaks down Gordon’s potential reinstatement, the number of NFL suspensions he has faced and more.

Why is Josh Gordon up for reinstatement in the NFL?

Gordon has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL since December 2019. He was conditionally reinstated by the league in December 2020 — he had signed with the Seahawks three months prior, with the team confident he would be fully reinstated later in the season — but had it rescinded on Jan. 15, 2021.

An NFL spokesperson told ESPN at the time that he had violated the league’s substance-abuse policy, offering no further details. Following his rescinded reinstatement in January, Gordon joined the Zappers of Fan Controlled Football in March 2021, reuniting with former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Gordon later submitted his letter of reinstatement to Goodell in July.

MORE: Fan Controlled Football league reunites Josh Gordon with Johnny Manziel

What did Josh Gordon do to be suspended?

Gordon was suspended indefinitely in December 2019 for violating the NFL’s policies on performance-enhancing substances and substances of abuse.

An NFL spokesperson told ESPN at the time that he had violated the league’s substance-abuse policy, offering no further details, though sources confirmed to ESPN that he had suffered a setback in his recovery from substance abuse.

How many times has Josh Gordon been suspended?

When the NFL suspended Gordon in December 2019, it was his fifth suspension related to the NFL’s policies on substances of abuse and performance-enhancing drugs and sixth overall. Below is a timeline of his suspensions while in the NFL:

June 7, 2013 — Gordon violates the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. He is suspended for the Browns’ first two games of the season.

Aug. 27, 2014 — Gordon is suspended one full year for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy a second time.

Dec. 27, 2014 — Gordon is suspended by the Browns for one game for a violation of team rules.

Feb. 3, 2015 — Gordon is suspended by the NFL and is ineligible to return until the beginning of the 2016 season.

Dec. 20, 2018 — Gordon announces he is stepping away from football to focus on mental health. Hours later, the NFL suspends him indefinitely for violating its substance-abuse policy.

Dec. 16, 2019 — Gordon is suspended indefinitely for violating league policies on performance-enhancing substances and substances of abuse.

MORE: What happened to Josh Gordon’s reinstatement? Seahawks WR out ‘indefinitely’ after substance abuse setback

What is Josh Gordon’s age?

Gordon turned 30 on April 13. Despite his age, he will play in only his seventh NFL season in 2021 if he is reinstated by the league.

The former All-Pro receiver turned in one of the league’s top receiving performances in 2013 — his second year in the league. At age 23, he caught 87 passes for a league-leading 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns, despite missing two games. Gordon hasn’t been able to recreate that dominant season since, however, playing only five games in 2014 and missing the entirety of the 2015 and ’16 seasons.

He has only played more than six games in a given season twice since 2013: once in 2018, when he played one game for Cleveland and 11 for New England and again in 2019, when he played six games for New England and five for Seattle.

What team is Josh Gordon on?

If Gordon is reinstated, he will be a free agent. The last team he played for, the Seahawks, released him from his contract in March 2021. He also spent time with Cleveland (2012-14, 2017-18), New England (2018-19) and Seattle (2019).


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