All the best to Josh Gordon as he focuses on his mental health

Josh Gordon’s time in the NFL looks like it’s come to a sad ending.

After numerous substance abuse policy slips, Gordon took to Twitter this morning to announce that he’s leaving the NFL to “focus on his mental health”.

This came about before ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Gordon is facing a potential suspension…

I saw Stephen A.Smith ‘First Take’ this morning , and he seemed pretty done with Gordon receiving chance after chance in the league.

But honestly, this isn’t a domestic violence situation like Ray Rice or Greg Hardy.

This a very flawed individual who has had issues since he was a young teen.

In an article by Ben Baskin of SI last year, we learned about Gordon’s troubled upbringing.

This part of the piece was the most disturbing.

Gordon grew up with two older brothers in the Fondren neighborhood of southwest Houston, his family bouncing from apartment to apartment, he says, as eviction notices piled up, rarely able to turn on the lights. He describes being thrown out of two middle schools for stealing electronics from other students. He says he began smoking marijuana in seventh grade, taking Xanax in eighth—and still he managed to land a basketball scholarship to the private Westbury Christian School. He made it to 10th grade before he was thrown out of there as well.

As a sophomore at Lamar High he found himself alone and vulnerable and, he says, joined the Six Deuce Harvard Park Brim Bloods, an offshoot of the South Central L.A. gang. “It was a mentorship,” Gordon says. He’d go every morning to a tattoo parlor and pick up a small .38 special that he put in his pocket or backpack, then he’d return it at the end of the school day.

Every weekend, he says, a fight would break out and there’d be a flurry of bullets; he caught one in the left arm during his junior year. Gordon says he never “maliciously” shot anyone, but he often had to shoot “to get out, to cause some type of hesitation—a pause so you could keep moving.” He says he sold drugs, mostly weed and mostly at school, “to feed myself.” But the majority of his income came from counterfeit money. The gang would spend $100 to get $2,000 in fake currency, Gordon says, then he would go to McDonald’s and buy five $1 cheeseburgers with a large bill in order to get the legit change.

Gordon would steal cars “almost every day,” he says, because “we just needed a ride.” He would either shatter a vehicle’s window or manipulate the locking mechanism, and his partner would do the hot-wiring. He also worked on a three-man crew that broke into homes—always empty, he says, but he was often carrying a gun—to steal electronics. “Whenever [the gang] could use you, exploit you on anything that puts you in danger of going to prison,” he says, “[I’d] be the guy.”

Gordon says he smoked marijuana every day at Lamar and drank vodka from Minute Maid bottles during class. His junior year he started drinking codeine syrup mixed with soda—or “lean”—every night. Whenever someone offered, he’d pop Xanax, hydrocodone, oxycodone. Before football games he’d chug Mad Dog 20-20 straight out of the bottle just to see if he could play drunk. He was arrested for felony credit card theft five days after his 17th birthday and, no longer a minor, spent 35 days locked up. “You get shot, you go to jail,” Gordon says. “These are progressions in this lifestyle.”

Addiction and mental health correlate with each other. We need to be with Josh and encourage him to be his better self.

If all goes well off the field, maybe we’ll see a return to the football field. Maybe not.

What matters is that Gordon’s mental health improves as soon as possible, which will hopefully lead to him remaining sober.

Although he hasn’t been flashy, Gordon still finished with 720 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games with New England.

It sucks that we’re losing a special talent like this. If you don’t remember just how dominant he was at one point, let me take you back to 2013…

All the best, Josh.