Remember the names of those who most boisterously criticized the New England Patriots’ acquisition of wide receiver Josh Gordon.
No, not to later out them to Old Takes Exposed on Twitter, but because that’s exactly what they want. They want to bask in the glory of Gordon’s next downfall. They want to be right that Gordon will fail another drug test, get suspended, go to rehab or leave the NFL again to work on his mental health like he did countless times with the Cleveland Browns.
They want the Patriots to be wrong for taking an ill-advised risk in allowing Gordon into their locker room.
But that in itself is dumb. Do you know what’s fun? Watching Tom Brady throw passes to Josh Gordon. And it’s dumb to hate fun.
Gordon caught passes from Brandon Weeden, Thaddeus Lewis, Jason Campbell, Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel, Deshone Kizer and Tyrod Taylor in Cleveland. And he’s still managed 180 catches for 3,106 yards with 16 touchdowns in what amounts to less than three seasons worth of games.
His 2013 season was even more unbelievable than you remember — he had two consecutive 230-plus yard games — and he looked like his old self at times late in the 2017 season.
Do you know what’s fun? Cheering for a guy, who has dealt with addiction and mental health issues, to succeed in life and the NFL.
Gordon seemingly has said and done all the right things since last November. He came clean about his issues to GQ and Uninterrupted.
After catching 18 passes for 335 yards with a touchdown in five games last season, Gordon stepped away from football to reportedly work on his mental health and anxiety, which caused his substance-abuse issues in the past. (So, yeah, all those jokes about Gordon drinking and smoking? Not actually all that funny.)
Gordon returned to the Browns this August and was traded to the Patriots after reportedly injuring his hamstring during a photo shoot last week. Is that all there is to the story? It’s all that’s come out so far.
Do you know what’s decidedly not fun and actually quite stupid? Comparing Gordon (not a murderer) to Aaron Hernandez (a murderer), like 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Mike Felger did on his radio show Wednesday.
“To me (the comparison is) Aaron Hernandez,” Felger said. “It’s like, ‘This guy’s real bad news.’ It’s like, ‘don’t touch this guy with a ten-foot pole. And no one’s going to touch this guy with a 10-foot pole except for you.’ Like, that’s the only — there’s no perfect analogy, but in terms of toxicity level or the ‘stay away from this guy’ level, Hernandez is the only one I can think of that’s close.
” … Eight times suspended by the team, league or denied reinstatement in six years. I’m not saying he’s a murderer or a bad guy. … But let me tell you what’s driving that: It just came out in this (Ian) O’Connor book where Urban Meyer told at least one NFL team — and you would think he would have had to tell the Patriots since he’s so close to Bill — ‘don’t effing touch that guy.’ Urban Meyer told a team that. ‘Don’t effing touch that guy.’
Felger’s logic is confounding. “Gordon’s not a bad guy, but hey, let’s compare him to a murderer, anyway.” There’s nothing like throwing out Hernandez’s name for shock value.
NESN.com reached out to a source who has worked with Gordon. The source worried about Gordon’s accountability and constitution to stay on the right path. He said Gordon’s not a bad guy but had a bad upbringing, that he was always around drugs and had no rules. The source didn’t think Gordon would wind up hitting with the Patriots, but that maybe they’d get three to six productive games out of the wide receiver.
Maybe that last part is true. Maybe New England wasted a fifth-round pick it probably would have traded before next year’s draft, anyway. Or maybe Gordon can turn it around. And it will be fun to root for Gordon the person as he gets a fresh start and a change of scenery in Foxboro.
It’s certainly a lot more fun than rooting for a guy’s downfall to prove a point.
Thumbnail photo via Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports Images