Gordon news spoils Manziel celebration

BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns fans could not even celebrate for 24 hours.

Less than a day after fans exulted at the team's selection of Johnny Manziel with the 22nd pick in the NFL draft, news broke via ESPN's "Outside the Lines" that standout wide receiver Josh Gordon faces a one-year suspension for failing a drug test.

The report said Gordon failed a test for marijuana.

Gordon was suspended for the first two games of last season for another failed test, which he attributed to codeine in a prescription cough syrup.

A letter was sent to Gordon in late April informing him of the suspension and telling him he had the right to appeal, OTL's report said.


On March 27, Gordon visited the ESPN offices in Bristol, Connecticut, where he conducted several interviews. One was on the phone with me, during which he talked about many topics related to his career, including his potential for greatness and his status in the NFL's drug program.

Asked if he was walking a tightrope in terms of being in Stage 3 of the program, which means another failure would result in a 12-month calendar suspension, Gordon said, "I’ve been dealing with it since the suspension. I'm going at things full speed. Trying to keep my head down and out of the way."

He said having the game taken away from him was a "humbling" experience that brought him back "down to earth."

"Now you tend to not take as many things for granted," Gordon said, adding, "You change as a person for the better."

He added about his future: "The only thing that can keep me from achieving any of that [greatness] is myself.

"I don’t want to revert back to any kind of negative way or negative behavior," he said. "There’s no roof on potential."

The Browns knew they were walking a tightrope with Gordon. They took him in the second round of the supplemental draft even though he had failed three drug tests in college: two at Baylor and one at Utah.

They also knew of Gordon’s positive tests on the first day of the 2014 draft (per ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio), meaning they followed their plan even though they did not take a receiver to replace Gordon.

If Gordon is suspended -- and rarely do these reports come out for no reason -- Gordon would have let the Browns, and himself, down in a huge way.

The team faces 2014 without its biggest playmaker and key to the team.

In 14 games last season, Gordon set a team record and led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards. He had 87 catches with nine touchdowns.

Now, Gordon would be banned from the league for one year, then could reapply for reinstatement after that year.

Teams have overcome the loss of players to injury and suspension.

It happens.

But the Browns must deal with the on-field loss of a player who was on the verge of stardom, as well as the psychological blow of losing him less than 24 hours after taking Manziel.

It's almost beyond the pale of legitimate torment for any loyal fan base.