When it comes to violations of the substance-abuse policy, teams are usually tight lipped. When it comes to receiver Josh Gordon, a player the current regime in Cleveland inherited via a 2013 second-round pick the old regime used prematurely last July, the Browns are say a little more than nothing.
And what they’re saying arguably says a lot.
“Obviously we are all disappointed in this news,” coach Rob Chudzinski said in a statement released by the team. “In our short time with Josh, he has done everything that we’ve asked him to do and he has exhibited substantial improvement. We believe that he will continue to work diligently through training camp and the preseason. I am confident that others will step up in his absence.”
The observation that Gordon has “exhibited substantial improvement” possibly relates to his performance on the field. It also possibly relates to the behavior that resulted in apparently multiple violations of the substance-abuse policy.
Absent a violation of the law, a suspension under the substance-abuse policy happens only if a player commits multiple violations. For players like Josh Gordon and Jags receiver Justin Blackmon, that’s a lot of violations to rack up in only one year.
Once a player is in the substance-abuse program, he knows he’s going to be tested. To end up getting suspended means that he has continued to test positive even when he knows he’s going to be tested — unless, of course, the subsequent violations come from failing to comply with the testing requirements.
Either way, the Browns undoubtedly wish that former CEO Mike Holmgren, who surely knew that Randy Lerner was in the process of selling the team to Jimmy Haslam when drafting Gordon in July 2012, had refrained from using the pick, which took away the new regime’s ability to select a second-rounder in 2013 and saddled it with a player who eventually could end up smoking his way right out of the league.