Melvin Gordon's mom on wearing her son's No. 28 jersey: 'He's got to earn it'

SAN DIEGO -- Melvin Gordon’s worst critic isn’t in the stands or behind a microphone on a TV broadcast.

It’s the person closest to him -- his mother, Carmen Gordon, a no-nonsense woman who has been following his career since his days starring in youth football.

Carmen Gordon regularly attends practice and breaks down her son’s performance in conversations between the two afterward.

“She thinks she’s a coach,” Gordon joked.

So what has she told Melvin during baptism as an NFL rookie?

“Be patient,” she said. “This is a new game, and he’s got to learn it. This is what they do for a living, so you either have to sink or swim.”

Some observers consider Gordon an offensive rookie of the year candidate who has a real possibility of breaking LaDainian Tomlinson’s franchise rookie rushing record of 1,236 yards. Carmen Gordon also holds high expectations for her son.

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” she said. “It makes him better. I just know he’s got to get focused. It’s a learning curve, and I get that. You want him to do so well, but I think he expects so much so fast. But he’ll get it, I know he will.”

And until Gordon meets those lofty goals, his mother said she will not be wearing his No. 28 jersey in the stands on game days.

“You’ve got to show me a little something, but it won’t be this year,” she said. “So you might see me in the stands, but I won’t have the jersey on. I did the same thing in college because I just want to hear what people are saying.”

Carmen Gordon said she did not wear her son’s No. 25 jersey at Wisconsin until his final season at the school. She looks forward to watching Gordon take the field next week for the first time in San Diego’s exhibition opener at Qualcomm Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 13.

“Oh yeah,” she said. “This is a dream for him. It’s a job now, that’s how I look at it. I told him that I couldn’t do this for a living, of course. I can imagine the pressure that is on all of these guys. But this is what he chose to do, so you have to do it well. I’m just here to support him.”

A lifelong follower of football, Carmen Gordon said she was a Peyton Manning fan. But with Manning heading up San Diego’s AFC West rival, the Denver Broncos, she’ll have to change allegiances.

“I used to like (Philip) Rivers, but then I started liking Peyton Manning,” she said. “Now he’s getting a little older, but he was a bad boy back in the day. Philip Rivers was too when LT (LaDainian Tomlinson) was here, you know I watched him a little more back then. But now I’m going to watch him even more because Melvin is on the team.”