Facing yet another suspension for failing a test for alcohol, Browns receiver Josh Gordon took the offensive, writing a lengthy explanation that blasts members of the sports media, including ESPN's Stephen A. Smith and former stars Charles Barkley and Chris Carter, who've criticized the former All-Pro.
"I'm not a drug addict; I'm not an alcoholic," he says in his open letter posted at medium.com. "I'm not someone who deserves to be dissected and analyzed like some tragic example of everything that can possibly go wrong for a professional athlete. And I'm not going to die on account of the troubled state you wrongly believe my life to be in."
He said his latest problem occurred on a post-season flight when he had a few drinks. Since his last offense was a DWI in July, the league was regularly testing him for alcohol. He's previously failed tests for marijuana and Adderall. Gordon maintained the failed test for marijuana that triggered an eight-game suspension was due to second-hand smoke, and that he hasn't "smoked marijuana since before I was drafted by the Browns in 2012."
Gordon began using 'marijuana regularly as a young teenager… Back then, smoking marijuana wasn’t an addiction for any of us - we were still boys, basically. It was just what everyone did. It was everywhere, like alcohol was.'
The All-Pro wide receiver faced a year-long suspension going into the 2014, which was reduced to 10 games, thanks to recent changes to the NFL's Substances of Abuse Policy. One of the NFL's leading receivers, Gordon was docked two games in 2013 when codeine from cough syrup showed up up in a test.
Update: On Feb. 3, the NFL suspended Gordon for 16 games - the entire 2015 season.
During his college career, Gordon was booted by Baylor after two marijuana-related suspensions. He switched to Utah, but had similar problems and never suited up for a game. The Browns selected him in the second round of the 2012 supplemental draft.
The 6-3, 225-pound speedster led the NFL in receiving yardage with 1,646 yards on 87 receptions (an average of 19 years per catch) in 2013. He had nine touchdowns and two 200-yard games. He had just 23 catches and no TDs in his abbreviated 2014 season.