Josh Gordon opens up about past struggles with drugs, says 'I can be a better man'

Suspended receiver Josh Gordon opened up Tuesday about his extensive drug use, speaking on a first-person 13-minute video on UNINTERRUPTED, a digital media company.

"I've used alcohol on many, many occasions,” Gordon said on the video released Tuesday. “Xanax on many occasions, cocaine several occasions, marijuana most of my life, codeine, cough syrup. Methazine is very prevalent where I'm from. It's what I grew up using."

Gordon said he made the video during a three-day leave from a recent stay in rehab that lasted more than 70 days. He called being able to speak in the first person something that would be “therapeutic” for him.

"I'm in the position I'm in now and I'm grateful for it,” he said. “I’m able to give this message and this opportunity for you to learn from my mistakes and for me to tell them my story."

Gordon discussed methods he used to beat the drug testing system in college, said he failed tests in the NFL because he was an addict and described walking the streets of Gainesville, Florida, late at night looking for a drug dealer or for anyone who might have drugs.

“I couldn't find anybody with drugs and I just began to have a flashback and remembered all the negative things that have happened in my life that transpired, like what led up to this point?” Gordon said. “How did it get this bad? Like it's so dark out here, I'm all alone, what the hell am I doing?

“I was scared. I was scared for my life.”

He said that propelled him to enter rehab again, and to take it seriously.

Cleveland.com reported that Gordon now lives in Gainesville with his business manager Michael Johnson, and works out with former Olympics sprinter Tim Montgomery.

Gordon has been suspended for 48 of the Cleveland Browns' past 53 games, and 50 of the past 69. He has not been available for a full season since his rookie campaign in 2012.

Gordon can apply for reinstatement, but hadn't prior to the video’s release. The Browns have consistently maintained that they will not address Gordon’s situation until his status changes. Vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said at a fan forum in August that the team’s emphasis is on Josh Gordon becoming whole as a person before it addresses him as a player.

The video was slickly produced, and included soft music, Gordon standing by a creek in the woods, Gordon walking in the streets at night to illustrate his darkest night, and standing talking on his cell phone to Falcons and former Browns receiver Taylor Gabriel. In parts of the video he wears shirts with the initials “JG," which is also the title of the video.

He also showed a photo of one of his daughters on his phone, saying he has yet to see her. Since September of 2016, Gordon has been sued twice in paternity cases in the Cleveland area that showed he was the father of the children.

Gordon’s narrative in this video contradicts his previous first-person statement online, when he said he wrote in an open letter on The Cauldron that he was given a year-long suspension for the 2015 season because he had four drinks on a plane.

"I've been enabled most of my life honestly," he said. "I've been enabled by coaches, teachers, professors, everybody pretty much gave me a second chance just because of my ability.”

Gordon drew support from LeBron James of the Cavs and former Browns, Redskins and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III:

Gordon’s story begins at Baylor.

“Not too long after I got arrested for possession of marijuana at Baylor, one of my coaches came by saying 'You are going to get drug tested by the compliance office. This is how it's going to work, this is what they are going to do. If they do call you in, here goes these bottles of detox,’” Gordon said. “He showed me how to drink them, showed me how to take them. That was my real first experience with getting over on the system and that authority not really being taken seriously because it was kind of being guided by somebody that's employed by the same university."

At a future drug test, he said he searched for the coach because he was out of the drink. He didn’t find one, so he failed the test. He said he failed “because I was getting high.”

Baylor released a statement, which said: “Josh Gordon was a football student-athlete from 2009 until 2011 at which time he was suspended indefinitely and ultimately left the program. None of the football staff from this time frame are currently employed by Baylor. As such, we decline to comment further.”

When he got to the Browns and the NFL, Gordon failed a drug test for codeine in 2013, and was suspended two games. He said he went to rehab for two weeks as “a business move.”

“My first thought was this is a publicity stunt,” Gordon said. “This is going to help the media deal with me. This is going to help the fans be able to deal with it. I don’t know what they’re so worked up for anyway. I definitely wasn’t listening, I definitely wasn’t paying attention. It’s a business move. All right, cool, let’s do it.

“I was there for like 14, 15 days. It was a joke. It was pretty much a vacation. I had a bunch of gourmet meals and took a little break. Then got right back to work and led the league in receiving yards.”

He was suspended 10 games in 2014 by the league, and for the season finale by the team for missing a morning walk-through before the season finale.

“The sixth game, end of the season, stayed out late but the thing is we had to be up in the morning for like a 7:30 team meeting,” Gordon said. "I didn't wake up until 10 o'clock, 10:15, coming out of a blackout. I'm getting a bunch of texts and calls, from coaches like 'Where are you at, we're headed to the tarmac already.’

“I'm like 'Aw s---,' so drove up to the tarmac, and our general manager at the time (Ray Farmer), he kind of pulls me to the side and talks to me.

“He’s like 'I'm sorry Josh, but you're not going on this plane.' I was watching the plane go off and it was like ‘Well f--- it, let's go home, let's party.’"

Gordon then was suspended for all of 2015 for what he originally said was drinking alcohol while flying to Las Vegas with teammates.

“I got suspended for the entire year,” Gordon said, “and after that it kind of all came in from all angles, different fans, everybody kind of was like 'Oh, you're a piece of s---, you're a drug addict, you're a junkie, whatever, you're alcoholic.’

“So at that point, I was like, 'If you all want me to be this guy so bad, that's just what I'm going to be.'"

Gordon insists he is serious about getting his life together, saying at the video’s conclusion, “I need to try to make right for all my past transgressions and mistakes and show and prove I can be a better person, I can be a better man.”

He also praised NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, saying Goodell has been a mentor “in a way he may not even understand.”