Pat McManamon, ESPN Staff Writer 344d

Josh Gordon in his own words: 'I look at every day as a new opportunity'

Josh Gordon pronounced himself "clean and sober" in two Wednesday interviews with reporters who cover the Cleveland Browns. Gordon first talked in the locker room for about 3½ minutes, then a few minutes later spoke in the media room.

Here's the transcript of the two interviews:

What were your emotions like being back in building yesterday?

Josh Gordon: I was excited, man, I was definitely excited. Grateful for the opportunity, more than anything. Just real optimistic and everything. I'm in a good spot.

Why can this be a good environment for you, considering it was the place where so many troubles took place?

JG: I think just living it out, honestly. Just seeing it through. Seeing what's next for me. Ultimately, nobody knows what the future holds. As long as I can continue to stay tracking and control what I can control and do my part, the rest will take care of itself and play itself out. I do not know. But I'm approaching it in the best way I can and the best way I know how, just doing what I can do.

Why are you in a good spot now as opposed to previously?

JG: Now I know I have the support in place outside and inside of the building, and my life is just in a conducive space where I need to be for me psychologically, physically. It's all come together. So right now, at this point in time in my life, I'm feeling well, I'm feeling great.

Is it a daily battle to stay sober?

JG: Umm, I believe it's easier, every day gets easier. But right now I think I'm just focused on the football aspect of it, and the rest [that] I take care of outside of here is where I'd like to keep it.

You said in a recent GQ interview that you used or drank before every game you played. What will it be like to play a game sober?

JG: In reference to anything I've stated previously in Q and A's or publications that are already out there, those questions have been asked and answered. Me being here right now, I'm going to try to relate everything back to football and take advantage of the platform of being here and underneath this roof, kind of sticking to the football facts and the football bases and the football-based questions and what I can do to help this team now.

There are only six players left from when you were here a year ago. Does this feel at all strange?

JG: It looks like a new team. I wouldn't say strange; obviously it's the youngest team in the NFL. But altogether despite that, they remain poised and very mature for the situation that they're in. I'm excited to get started with them and work with all these guys. Got a chance to talk to them. They're in a good spot and I think we've just got to know how to grind it out. It's a struggle in the NFL; you've got to work to keep at it, that's for sure.

Are you taking a new look at playing in Cleveland?

JG: New look? I look at every day as a new opportunity and making it the best I can with what I'm given and what I'm told to do. But inside of my control, that's all I got is just working hard and continuing to perform at the best possible level I can. Anything else outside of that's outside of my control.

Do you want to be in Cleveland?

[At that point, Gordon had to leave for a meeting, so he walked away without answering. He later joined the media for the second part of the interview.]

We'll start where we left off. Do you want to be here?

JG: I'm here to help the team win, that's my first priority, just being the best football player I can be. That comes first and foremost; anything after that I have no control over. I'm here to help this team win and do that the best way I know how, and that's being the best wide receiver.

Do you understand why the Browns seemed done with you when you left before your suspension ended in 2016?

JG: Considering my situation, I believe that's fair, the frustration aspect of it. Myself, the franchise, the fans, everybody was frustrated at that point in time, so I understand it. I believe me and Coach [Hue] Jackson and Sashi Brown and the front office have moved on. They obviously welcomed me back into the organization, so that's in the past and we're looking forward to this year.

Do you feel like you're back with a clean slate?

JG: Do I feel that way? Yeah, for me, yes it is. I can't speak for everybody else. But for me, I'm doing my part and for me it is a brand-new thing, it's fresh faces, fresh experience, new opportunities and I'm excited about it.

Who is helping you here?

JG: The organization in its entirety has been very instrumental in implementing the transition back here, so I'm definitely appreciative of everybody. It's been a full job for everybody I think and I've leaned on everybody and they've been able to help me.

You can only play five games this season, which means you can't accrue a full season toward becoming a restricted free agent. Is there any frustration with that decision?

JG: It worked out the way it worked out. I have no control over that situation. More than anything, I'm just glad to be back playing in any capacity; the rest I think will take care of itself when it gets there.

I'll go back to earlier ... what will it be like playing sober?

JG: Yeah, like I said before, anything like that has already been stated, considering the things in the past right now. I know I'm clean and sober and I'm looking forward to that and I think the ceiling is very high.

What will it be like to be in that situation?

JG: Like I said, it's fresh opportunities. It's new for everybody, a fresh start for me, looking to take advantage of it and do the best I can.

What gives you the belief you can play at a high level?

JG: I feel confident from the mere fact of the amount of work I've put in and in that of itself, I know can translate toward the field. I feel as though I will work harder than everyone else at my position and specifically to make sure I can ensure myself to be the best version of myself that I can be, and if I can get the rest of it, that’s just extra for me. But I plan on being the best and I plan on working harder and outworking anyone else opposing me or anybody in the room, as far as it goes competition-wise. It's to create that atmosphere, so for me I'm definitely confident in what I can produce and put out there.

What was your meeting like with Hue Jackson?

JG: It was good. It was a bunch of laughs, a bunch of smiles. Coach Jackson is a great guy. He understands football. He understands players. Me and him have a good relationship, and he's supportive more than anything. He's just shown his support throughout the entirety of my transition coming back, and I'm glad to be working with him and I'm glad that he's here.

Can you touch on your relationship with [commissioner Roger] Goodell and what he's done to help you?

JG: Commissioner Goodell has extended every resource possible. I definitely have to give a lot of thanks and gratitude toward the NFL, NFLPA and the program altogether just by allowing me the length of opportunity to get back and keep coming back and keep trying and keep trying. So he's been with me side by side in that fact, and talking with him, he continued to show that love and that support. I'm grateful to have him in my corner, and I know I can lean on him and rely on him and he's been open and available and just overall a real asset to me.

Moving forward, what's the most you could possibly hope for?

JG: The most I could possibly hope for is being the best, as far as football goes, being the best wide receiver I could be, the best version of myself I could be, in the greatest shape possibly and giving 100 percent. I feel as though if I can stick to that plan, the rest will take care of itself. But ultimately my goal is to be the best wide receiver of all time. So I think any wide receiver, anybody in any position should see themselves in that way. They should work toward that goal. For me, that's always been my goal, and I think it's just been reaffirmed for me time and time again. And now being back in the situation to do it, I plan on seeing it through.

Have you entered into a business relationship with LeBron James' company and will it represent you going forward?

JG: I have not. But me and LeBron and the guys over there, Maverick Carter, they have been instrumental as far as just helping put things into play and giving advice and some mentorship. So I definitely appreciate him and his camp as to what they do for me.

Have you watched DeShone Kizer and what are your impressions?

JG:. I've watched every game. He's young. Like any other rookie or young quarterback, coming into the NFL is a tough transition, and he's getting the brunt of that, as the team is altogether. It comes with experience. That's really the only great tool, learning tool, is experience. For him, I think that's what's going to come into play somewhere down the road. But I talked to him yesterday. He's adamant and really looking forward to giving and extra work. I told him our schedules conflict right now, but when you get a chance, you're not tired, let's get in some extra work. He was open to it. He approached me about it. So I'm glad that that's where his head is at, and we have room to grow.

What was the biggest factor to get to this point that's helped you be here?

JG: I think a newfound obsession of improvement, just wanting to get better and get better every day. Wake up every day with a new opportunity to be the best wide receiver I can be, to be the best teammate I can be, to be the best friend, every aspect of it. Just doing the most I can do without any type of regret, without any type of shortcoming, ultimately knowing you're not going to succeed at everything, but those failures all come with experience and learning lessons, and that's something I definitely take and something I need to use and something I do implement in my everyday life.

You missed two years. Do you regret missing those two prime years?

JG: No regret. I think that whole experience was definitely fundamental in my growth. I needed that.

You've played with several different quarterbacks here. Does who plays quarterback matter?

JG: I think that just goes back to reflect on just some of the aspects from working from within, what I can work with, and that's just doing what I can do regardless of the circumstances and the pieces around me. Hopefully, I can help where I can to bring somebody else up by doing my part and showing and proving by example [to] whoever it is that's out there on your team that this is the amount of work that should be put in so you can expect great things. For quarterbacks, whoever it may be, hopefully consistently get one that's going to prove himself and get acclimated and be there. Show the example that if he can do it, I can do it. Hopefully, it is with DeShone Kizer and we'll see going forward.

You mentioned professional goals. What are your personal goals on a daily basis?

JG: Day-to-day basis is wake up and make sure I can improve somewhere that I feel as though that there's a fault or there's a weakness. I think that every day there's something else to be worked on, whether it's on the field or outside of here, my relationship with my family, whoever it may be. I always have to continue to check in with myself and take those inventories specifically where I'm at with it today, kind of just practice self-care, so that's what I try to do.

Along with the football stuff, you are a father. (Gordon was named in two paternity suits in the Cleveland area.) How will you deal with that?

JG: I think all of it ties in very keenly to sports, to life -- they intertwine very closely. From just overall the stance on how I view life and my stance on life and character which I want to play for my family, for my daughter, being an example for my daughter, really living it out. It definitely hits close to home on many different levels.

Was doing the GQ interview part of your therapy?

JG: I'm just trying to be as transparent and as honest as I can be in a professional way in that platform. That's the way in which it was conveyed and trying to do the best I can to control that narrative. For me, it's beneficial to get out in front of it and let the rest take its natural course.

You mentioned being harassed by people in Cleveland. Did all the fans harass you or was it just a few?

JG: That was just my experience. I'm not saying that's what it is for everybody. That was just my experience and me telling the story. That was my truth, but what was doesn't have to be.

Were you as transparent with Goodell as you were in the GQ article? Did anything he read in that interview surprise him?

JG: He would not be surprised. I was definitely just as transparent. That's the way I plan to move on forward in a personal relationship, business relationship, with people that need to know certain things in a professional manner or non-professional manner, as far as it just knows that trust is there and putting in the proper context which people will not want to exploit.

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