Patriots Star Stepping Away From Football

Sophia Vlahakis

The New England Patriots Wide Receiver, Josh Gordon, announced he was stepping away from football following a suspension. The NFL stated that Gordon is facing an indefinite ban for violating terms under the NFL’s drug policy. The 27-year-old released a statement on Twitter that said he would be stepping away from football to focus on his mental health following the suspension. Gordon has had a long history of mental health issues and substance abuse that has resulted in him being disciplined throughout his football career.

It came as a shock to many of Gordon’s teammates to hear that he had mental health issues because of his excellent performance on the field. Gordon has had 40 receptions for 720 yards and three touchdowns in just eleven games. His teammates and the Patriots organization have shown their support for Gordon during this difficult time. Safety Devin McCourty said, “He was a great teammate. Worked his butt off while he was here. For us as players we wish him the best personally.”

Gordon has had a lifelong struggle with drugs and alcohol. He had told Sports Illustrated that growing up in Houston he was constantly in danger from the influence of gangs. However, he was not just surrounded by it, but a part of it. Gordon had told Sports Illustrated about stealing cars to get to school, being in the midst of shootings, scamming businesses for money and smoking and drinking from a young age. Gordon’s surroundings where he grew up has made it increasingly difficult to stay sober.

Gordon started abusing drugs and alcohol in 7th grade and was expelled from high school for his use of drugs. In college, Gordon was suspended three times. Once for possession of drugs and twice for failing drug tests. Gordon’s substance abuse had not had a major negative impact until his college years. Gordon was used to getting by on his superior athletic skills so his drug tests were often never used against him by coaches or he would be assisted in detoxing before drug testing occurred. In the NFL, Gordon suffered suspensions from 2013 to 2018. He missed the entire 2015 to 2016 season and was only allowed to play in five games in 2017. In seven seasons, Gordon has only played one season entirely, which was in 2012 as a rookie. Since Gordon has such an extensive history, he is subject to random drug testing by the NFL. The Patriots acquired Gordon in September and were aware of his history. The Patriots organization had organized a security detail to follow Gordon and monitor his movement. Yet, he still found a way to access drugs.

Gordon has struggled with his mental health and sobriety for a long time and hopefully stepping away from football will have a positive impact on his health. It is important that Gordon is in a happy mental state whether that includes football or not. It is understandable that the NFL can have no tolerance policy when it comes to drug use.  However, if Gordon is able to overcome his issues, giving him another chance to play should be a possibility.  His statistics show that Gordon is a valuable player on the field. Mental health issues are not to be taken lightly and can affect anyone from a teenager living in a bad part of a city, to an NFL star. Gordon stated on Thursday, “I take my mental health very seriously at this point to ensure I remain able to perform at the highest level. I have recently felt that I could have a better grasp on things mentally.”  Let’s hope Gordon gets the help he needs and has the strength and support he needs to follow through this time.