NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell discussed the suspension of Josh Gordon and when the talented New England Patriots wide receiver might be able to return to the playing field during his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference on Wednesday.
"I have not spoken to him since his last suspension," Goodell said of Gordon, who was placed on the reserve/commissioner suspended list in December for violating the terms of his reinstatement under the NFL's substance abuse policy. "As you know, he is in treatment. He is a young man who has had a lot of challenges. I have gotten to know him, gotten to know the challenges he's had to go through. He's working at it. He understands what he has to do. He understands the importance for him."
The commissioner did not say when or if Gordon might be able to return to playing football.
"This is well beyond football," he said. "This is the importance for his life. He takes care of himself and understands the importance of getting this issue under control, being able to live a healthy and long life. If he can, we will evaluate that at the time. Right now, the focus is on what we can do to help Josh get to that place."
In 11 games for the Patriots this year, Gordon caught 40 passes for 720 yards with three touchdowns.
The Patriots traded a fifth-round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns for Gordon in September. The deal came together just days after the Browns said they had reached a breaking point with the star wide receiver, who has been suspended numerous times by the NFL for drug violations since he was drafted in 2012.
Gordon's tantalizing talent led the Browns to hang onto him as he dealt with drug and alcohol dependence dating back to his teens.
In his second season, Gordon led the league with 1,646 yards receiving and scored nine touchdowns, including an 80-yard TD catch against the Patriots, turning a short catch into an electrifying run on which he made New England's defenders appear to be standing still.
But that was in 2013, and Gordon has played in just 11 games since because of his off-field issues.
He missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons for violating the league's substance abuse policy. After being reinstated by Goodell in 2017, Gordon revealed in an interview with GQ magazine that he drank or used marijuana before games. "Probably every game of my career," he said.
Gordon also said in a 2017 mini-documentary on Uninterrupted.com that he took Xanax, cocaine, marijuana and other narcotics.
His most recent suspension was reportedly triggered by diluted drug test samples.