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The Josh Gordon file.

RG3 and Art Briles made 5’10” and 4.6 slow Kendell Wright the 20th overall pick in 2012.
Imagine how high 6’4″ and 4.5 Josh Gordon would have gone.

I didn’t want to get busy with Josh Gordon’s problems.  We’ve all been young, we’ve all made stupid choices over the course of our lives.  I don’t buy into ‘three-strikes’ type jurisprudence and don’t apply it here.

But damn.  This is deeper than the three failed drug tests at two colleges that we knew about and the insulting “narcotics prescription for strep throat” “confession.”  This is mid-stage self-destruction and someone in his posse should be planning an intervention.

Lamar High School star.


Can you even imagine having an NFL WR’s body in high school?

Josh Gordon was a pretty big deal in high school in Houston.

Gordon led the Lamar HS Redskins to an 8-2 record and the second round of Regional III DI playoffs as senior in 2008, including a 4-1 record in District 20-5A.  He was named first-team All-District 20-5A after totaling 25 receptions for 531 yards (21.2 average) and nine touchdowns as a senior.

At six-foot-four, 210 pounds, Josh Gordon is an imposing target. He is also one of the top players for Houston Lamar’s football team helping to lead them to yet another playoff run. (2/3/2008)

Physical gifts like this get you on college recruiting maps and Gordon had that.  This same report lists: FloridaMichiganFlorida StateUSC, OSU, Texas Tech, Houston and Texas A&M as interested.  Gordon himself says, “Florida and Michigan are my two favorites. My family is from Michigan and we like to sit and watch their games. Florida, they produce so many athletes and I like how they play.”

That’s an impressive list.

But flash forward to December 2008 and we see “Texas Tech and Missouri, his favorites during the season, seem to have lost interest.”

Not usually in the business of snubbing 6’4″ pro-caliber Texas high school stars.

Move to late January and Michigan never made him an offer.   He picked Baylor over TAMU (in spite of never visiting Kyle Field).

Could be nothing but.. damn.. you’re a fast, graceful, 6’4″ pro-calibre high school WR.  First team all-Texas, 20+ yds/catch, nine TDs.  How do you turn off so many programs?

South Beach Strep Throat

So the high school recruiting period was strange.  The suspension at Baylor happened, the transfer to Utah happened as well as another failed drug test.  But you can’t teach AJ Green clone and the Browns drafted Gordon with a high second round pick.

How has Gordon been working out for Browns?  Well he just got suspended for two games for failing a drug test.  Gordon also was fined two additional game checks.

About that suspension.  We’ve got some issues with the explanation offered by Gordon.  Here’s what he says:

In February, I was diagnosed with strep throat for which a doctor prescribed antibiotics and cough medicine,” Gordon said. “Apparently, the medicine I took contained codeine, which is prohibited by the NFL policy. The policy terms are strict about unintentional ingestion, but the NFL has not imposed the maximum punishment in light of the facts of my case. Therefore, I have chosen to be immediately accountable for the situation. I sincerely apologize for the impact on my team, coaches, and Browns fans. I look forward to working hard in training camp and pre-season, and contributing immediately when I return in week three.

We call bullshit.  

Houston: home of drank. No really, it’s a problem.

As we called out in a reply to Kolonich’s piece on Gordon yesterday, here’s our off-the-cuff responses to Gordon’s statement:

1. Who doesnt know a cough syrup does or does not have codeine in it?
2. What pro athlete doesn’t know the drug rules?
3. What pro athlete with three failed drug tests doesnt know the drug rules?
4. Who goes to a got-damn doc for strep throat?
5. If youve got strep throat what are you doing in south beach with your crew?
6. Who even gets strep throat.. when’s the last time you strep throat?
7. Does strep make you cough? I thought it was swollen glands.
8. Not sure where this fits but:  his hometown is the birthplace of drank.

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 1.08.40 PM

PROTIP: Read your prescription med labels before ingesting.

We’re not doctors here.  But we can google ‘symptoms of strep throat’ and ‘prescriptions for strep throat.’

Common symptoms of strep throat in children and adults include:

Antibiotics are the treatment of choice for a confirmed strep throat infection:

  • Antibiotics will reduce the time you are contagious. You are usually not contagious 24 hours after starting antibiotics.
  • Antibiotic treatment for strep throat can also help prevent some of the rarecomplications related either to the strep infection itself or to the body’s immune response to the infection. Complications of strep throat are rare but can occur, especially if strep throat is not properly treated.
  • Antibiotics may shorten the time you are sick by about one day.


Strep is a sore throat/swollen glands problem treated with anti-biotics.
Strep is not coughing treated with controlled narcotic cough syrup.

22 year old millionaire at Spring Break in Miami Beach. What’s the worst that could happen?

So this is a problem.  But it gets even worse when you find this sourced quote from Grossi on Gordon:

“I thought he really had a made a change and figured it out,” said a source. “Josh spent a bunch of time in South Beach (Fla.) during spring break. He’s very easily influenced. I think he’s a kid that really wants to change. But at some point, you have to be responsible for your own actions.”

If you’re feeling generous toward Josh you could question Grossi’s unnamed source.  But you can’t question the code contained within the quote.  Spring Break, South Beach, easily influenced.

It’s his money, his career.

Maybe Josh didn’t hear about the $1.3M Joe Haden lost last year?

This is true.  Gordon is free to do with his career as he wants.  We’re not his mom or his agent and not in a place to advise him.  So without judgement we’re just going to catalogue the bad choices Josh has made so far and then question whether he has, in fact, learned.

  • Seeming alienation of top college football programs during recruiting.
    • Results in no offers from his original top choices.
  • Two failed drug tests and suspension at Baylor.
    • Results in transfer away from the legendarily WR-friendly Griffin/Briles offense; Kendall Wright goes first round.
  • Failed drug test at Utah.
    • Results in forced entry into supplementary draft and risk of being paid as third rounder or worse.
  • Codeine use in the same time frame as spring break in South Beach.
    • Loses $148,894 in pay.

Pretty costly stuff when taken in sum.  It’s not a good trend but we’re all forgiving and as Browns fans, optimistic.  Maybe he’s learning from this.  But in case you thought my comment about an intervention seemed over done, consider…

The Bedard tweets.

We talked about Greg Bedard’s tweets from Berea last week in Friday’s Little piece.  We were going to let the Gordon tweets slide, but can’t.  The impartial Bedard’s observations taken with his breadth of frame-of-reference adds up to a pretty scathing review.

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 10.19.39 AMScreen Shot 2013-06-11 at 10.19.51 AMScreen Shot 2013-06-11 at 10.20.04 AMScreen Shot 2013-06-11 at 10.21.22 AM

UPDATE:  Bedard stands by his Gordon assessment in interview with Bull and Fox 6/13.

This is bad.  This is the anti-Greg Little, the anti-Tristan Thompson.  Have any of you played for a high school coach who would be ok with you walking after a dropped ball in practice?  Me neither.  When national football watchers are “shocked” that you “loaf a lot” it’s time to take inventory.

Gordon looks like AJ Green when he steps on the field.  Green, like Greg Little, had a team suspension in college.  We’d feel a lot better about Gordon’s suspension(s) if they fell in the category of ‘enterprising college athlete’ and not ‘recidivist slave to drugs to the point of jeopardizing millions of dollars.’

As ever we hope for the best.  I think Gordon/Little can be an elite tandem.  But Gordon really needs to get his shit together.


Update 6/25:  Ryan Alton has a very good piece out on Gordon today.

Tebow signed by Belichick.

Wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t log that a Tebow sighting was foretold here a month ago:

One final thought after watching and learning about this offense:  some innovative team is going to pick up Tim Tebow for peanuts and add a little IZR/OZR to their playbook.  But relax Cleveland, it won’t be us.

San Fran, Seattle, Washington, and now Tennessee are running some zone read.  Tebow is a proven -and great- zone read QB at a bargain price.  Smart move by Belichick.  Mangini always said he hated to plan for multiple QBs.

DQ tells Pluto more inside blitzes.

On Terry Pluto’s podcast he discussed that DQwell says there will be more inside blitzing than in past defenses.  Pluto wondered what that would look like.  He should read Kanick.  We had that observation analyzed for you in April.

What seems to be a constant in the Horton Defense, though, are the stunts and activity by the ILBs.  Whether the OLBs are up front or dropped back, the ILB are bunched up in the middle.  They’re shooting gaps, they’re filling the box, they’re dropping in cover.

Horton’s ILBs are big in his defense.

And as he learned last year, you need two.  The having of 35 year old Paris Lenon as a starting ILB in the Horton Defense leads to result seen in the play we’re about to review.

In this play, the Niners’ o-line eats up Horton’s ILBs and it’s a good gain.  And it’s worth noting that one of those ILBs is currently an unsigned UFA.

Now then:  what if, instead of a Dave-Kolonich-type at ILB, if you have a genuine U-G-A stud running crazy with your Crossdog blitzes?  And what if you had an ILB who’s fast and hits?  But also is a former safety and can drop into coverage like a big d-back?

Don’t get me started on the how of Alec Ogletree not getting a pre-draft workout in Berea…


  1. […] see a guy from Greenville, MS***, who was a top HS recruit and all that entails, who got to play tip-top SEC CFB, lived the NFL lifestyle.  But the difference between him and […]

  2. […] concerns about the circumstances behind Gordon’s suspension have been covered in depth here.  But yet, here’s Josh Gordon’s first year.  His first year, mind you, playing with a […]

  3. […] written in the aftermath of the news about the suspension, with two of the better pieces coming here from friend-of-the-program Kanciki and this one from Mike Krupka at Dawgs by Nature. They both dovetail nicely with what we wrote […]

  4. Bronx Cheer says:

    First, like your stuff Kanick. Great blog – always worth a read even if I disagree with your opinion.

    One note, though. The DBN article made the point that codeine is NOT on the prohibited list. Thus, if this is true (I really have not seen this confirmed elsewhere – seems like a major point), then Gordon could not have possibly been suspended for using it (Dr. prescribed or not). That would make Gordon’s story patently false.

    Anyone with more insight into the CBA and banned substances that confirm this significant point?

    • NeedsFoodBadly says:

      I can offer no insight, only speculation.

      Everything on the list DNB linked to relates to PEDs, but as noted in the DBN article, testing for “street” drugs (i.e. weed, cocaine, painkillers including various opiates such as codeine) is a thing that exists. So presumably, there is a second list of prohibited substances kicking around somewhere that includes illegal drugs and abused prescription narcotic type things. Marijuana isn’t on that list, but it’s clearly proscribed somewhere in the NFL law books.

    • bupalos says:

      DBN article is simply and egregiously wrong. I have no idea why that isn’t being corrected. The whole premise is just dead wrong. Codeine is both prohibited and tested for.

      • tmoore94 says:

        The article has been amended. Mike said he missed that opiates were on the banned list when he first went through the league manual (they are listed in a footnote). Mistakes happen.

        It also turns out that, even with a prescription, you can be in trouble for using certain substances if you are not using them in the prescribed manner. It seems highly likely that is what happened with Gordon.

  5. Great job again k. You might add another number to the list. As noted over on website non-grata, Gordon grew up through the Houston schools, which are the world capital of drank. Circumstantial of course. But then circumstances are circumstances.

    • jimkanicki says:

      a very good point. actually, i *was* aware of this but not quite sure where to slide it in.

    • tmoore94 says:

      I’m a little bit surprised the media hasn’t pointed out, at least in passing, the connection between Houston and Purple drank (who comes up with those names?) I found the connection pretty easily when I was writing about Gordon over the weekend and I don’t think it is out of the realm to at least point out that Gordon grew up in Houston where it is a problem in the school system.

  6. Garry Owen says:

    As the presumptive “naive defender” of Gordon on WFNY, I would just provide this brief rebuttal:

    I’m not saying any of this is wrong – there is certainly a fair possibility that it is not – but . . . it is all still conjecture cloaked in speculation wrapped in inference. While convictions can be had (and very often are) based on circumstantial evidence, the only evidence produced against Gordon here is purely circumstantial. Again, it’s not necessarily wrong, but . . .

    There’s still something missing. If all of the above suppositions are true (as they very well may be – have I said that enough?), I still don’t know what to do with the fact that the NFL gave him only a two-game suspension – and I haven’t read a good explanation – or any explanation at all – why the league was so lenient on him. Goodell and his inquisitorial enforcement arm LOVE the 4-game suspension, even for FIRST TIME miscreants. IF all of the assumptions of Gordon’s nefariousness are true (they. may. be.), one would think that the NFL would have crashed a whole world of hurt on Gordon beyond the 2 games and loss of $150 k. That simple fact, coupled with Gordon’s own testimony (which there is NO WAY – in my own circumstantial estimation – was not closely administered, monitored, and approved by either the NFL or the Cleveland Browns or both) gives me enough pause to extend to Gordon a bit of deference. In other words, the glove just doesn’t quite fit (even though, again, it very well may be his glove).

    [By the way: Good stuff, here, Kanick.]

    • jimkanicki says:

      yeah….. yeah…. i know….. . to be perfectly frank, it was the bedard tweets that most bothered me and prompted the post. the high school recruiting strangeness had had my attention for awhile; i said my peace on the bogus excuse and was ready to let it drop.

      but something about his being called out as a loafer by the first national reporter (ie, not a slave to access and so able to comment freely) to watch the browns this year.. that one bugged me.

      • Garry Owen says:

        Maybe the Bedard observations and the the high school recruiting strangeness are closely related, but have nothing to do with the drug offenses? I.e., Gordon definitely has a serious lazy streak in football that turned off most of the big schools that recruited him?

        I guess I’ve been around long enough and in enough situations to know that trouble just seems to find some kids, even when they aren’t looking for it. Granted, they usually start the train of trouble somewhere along the way, but there are some kids that just can’t seem to escape it. I’m open to that being a possibility here, without him also still being a fool.

        Maybe the only interrelation between the Bedard observations/recruiting strangeness and the recent suspension is his lazy streak? I.e., Gordon was too lazy to pay attention to prescription contents?

        • WarbVIII says:

          If he was to lazy to pay attention and read what was in the cough syrup would that not make him a fool?

          • Garry Owen says:

            Perhaps, but not the fool that he’s being projected as (i.e., the fool that purposefully chases down drugs).

    • NeedsFoodBadly says:

      Your take on this is the same I favor. I haven’t seen a decent explanation for the 2 game let-him-play deal, and that’s not an insignificant point.

      • NeedsFoodBadly says:

        Ahhh, ask and you shall receive: http://www.dawgsbynature.com/2013/6/14/4428588/thoughts-on-josh-gordon-and-his-suspension

        Makes more sense to me now – and with bonus hat tips to NFB favorites Kanick and Zac Jackson.

        • Garry Owen says:

          Okay. Well, that does it. So he appears to be a pothead still doing what potheads do, because, you know, pot is just THAT good. Very disappointing, and now I can accept that the explanation was silly and foolish. And if true, it shows that he is indeed a fool that purposefully chases down drugs.

          I’m just glad that it removes “Purple Drank” from the conversations, though; because, frankly, I’m somewhat ashamed that this phrase actually has a meaning, and I feel funny even reading it.

          Now the, er, ah, defense moves to, ah, er . . . take a bathroom break or something. [Runs, head down, out of the courtroom, out of the courthouse, into his ’99 Eagle Talon, and smokes his tires peeling out of the parking lot.]

          • bupalos says:

            That doesn’t “do it.” The DBN article is 100% nonsense. It’s definitely the drank, and you should wish it was MJ.

  7. […] “This is bad. This is the anti-Greg Little, the anti-Tristan Thompson. Have any of you played for a high school coach who would be ok with you walking after a dropped ball in practice? Me neither. When national football watchers are “shocked” that you “loaf a lot” it’s time to take inventory. Gordon looks like AJ Green when he steps on the field. Green, like Greg Little, had a team suspension in college. We’d feel a lot better about Gordon’s suspension(s) if they fell in the category of ‘enterprising college athlete’ and not ‘recidivist slave to drugs to the point of jeopardizing millions of dollars.’” [Kanick] […]

  8. Dubbythe1 says:

    Kanick, I do agree with you on all points, however I speak from experience here (lost over 20lbs in late Jan/Feb due to a flu with strep-like throat issue), there was a really nasty bug that went around this past winter, causing flu symptoms and pharyngitis which mimics strep. Ask Frowns… I had the Most Awful cough imaginable (for 4 weeks after the initial illness), yet I wasnt contagious. So it is entirely possible that a doc prescribed both medicines, but it is negligent of Gordon to not question the scripts of potential banned ingredients.

  9. tmoore94 says:

    Have to hope Gordon grows up before it is too late. He definitely has the talent to be something special with this team but he is quickly running out of second chances.

    • Max says:

      how “Cleveland” would it be for this regime to cut ties with him (maybe after his next incident, if there is one), only for him to go somewhere, get his head on straight, and be an All Pro?

      The loafing concerns me more than the suspension. He will either get his act together or get banned for a year next time, effectively ending his chances here, and putting any other opportunities he may have in question.

      But if he is loafing, that could be a sign that he doesn’t think he needs to put effort into practicing. I’m sure that worked in college, where his talent was enough to make him a very good player, but in the NFL, everyone is just as athletic. You have to work your tail off to find an edge, because talent alone is not enough.

      Anyhow, let’s hope it was just one play in a meaningless June mini-camp that is not a harbinger of future work ethic.

      • mgbode says:

        this is where our coaching needs to step in. as I noted on WFNY, many athletes in similar situations don’t snap out of it until they have been kicked to the curb by their original team (if ever). if the issues are real (they seem to be), then our coaches (and leaders – JoeT & Little in particular) need to be in his ear and getting him on the good path for OUR team.

        • jimkanicki says:

          i follow maurice clarett on twitter. there’s always a 5AM ‘up early to train’ tweet.
          i hoped the browns would give him a shot during ‘the hillis season.’ but as you say, when the door closes on your nfl career, it’s pretty much locked from the other side.

          • mgbode says:

            Vince Young is off somewhere somberly nodding along.

            (actually, he’s hosting a golf tournament in Austin this weekend along with showing up at paid events and being treated by royalty everywhere he goes. nevermind, bad example)

          • bupalos says:

            That’s odd. I would have thought MC would have leveraged that world class college education Ohio State remunerated him with for his services that earned the school millions. Go figure.

  10. RGB says:

    Any reports of him hanging with Lil Wayne?
    “Up in the studio me and my drank, me and my drank, me and my drank…”

  11. LUAPKLAW@aol.com says:


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