In the years of the Philadelphia Eagles B.C. (Before Chip), the team had a mercurial wide receiver by the name of DeSean Jackson. I remember covering his last game at Cal at the Armed Forces Bowl. Despite being suspended for the first quarter for a violation of team rules, Jackson finished the game with 5 catches, 81 yards and a touchdown. And before that game, the suspension of Jackson and Cal defensive back Thomas Decoud was the big story in Fort Worth.

DeSean brought a speed factor to the Eagles. And, if you don’t believe me, go ask any New York Giants fan about punting to him that day at the Meadowlands. Love him or hate him, he was flashy. Yes, he did things that made you want to throw something at the TV, and scream “What are you doing!?”, like dropping the ball in Dallas before actually crossing the goal line. Other times however he also made you just look on in wonder at some of the things he could do, like stretch the field with his pure speed.

Alas, Chip Kelly conjured up a story of Jackson having “gang ties”, and released Jackson, who caught on with the Redskins. Truthfully, the Eagles receiving corps has gotten worse with that one move. Riley Cooper was not the answer. We all knew that. Jeremy Maclin left because he didn’t have the protection of Jackson on the other side (well, that, and I’m sure there were differences with Kelly). Jordan Matthews can’t do it all by himself. Heck, he has to at least catch the ball before he does anything. Just saying.

With nobody on the other side to provide Matthews some protection, the possibility has been floated: What if the Eagles tried to acquire Josh Gordon from Cleveland? Would that help matters for this decimated group. Let’s look at that question from both sides. To be sure, Gordon is quite a polarizing figure. One is either on the “pro” Gordon side, or they are on the “anti” Gordon side. There’s really no in-between.

First, let’s just announce that Gordon has applied for reinstatement to the NFL. He did this on January 20th of this year. That’s no guarantee he will be reinstated, but it’s a first step. What led to his year-long suspension? A series of missteps, really.

2013 – Suspended for the first two games of the 2013 season for violating the NFL substance abuse policy.

2014 – Originally suspended for the entire season after violating the league substance abuse policy. The suspension was reduced to 10 games in line with the new NFL Drug Policy. He was also suspended for the final game of the season by the team for a violation of team rules.

2015 – Suspended for the entire season after pleading guilty to driving while impaired in 2014, in Raleigh, NC. He had entered the league program, and was prohibited from consuming alcohol during this time. His positive test for alcohol led to the suspension.

Bad choices, all the way around. However, those choices aren’t new to Gordon. In 2010, as a sophomore at Baylor, he and a teammate were found asleep in their car at a Waco restaurant. The local police found marijuana in the car. The teammate was kicked off the Baylor team, Gordon was suspended. In 2011, while still at Baylor, Gordon failed another drug test, again for marijuana. Baylor coach Art Briles suspended Gordon indefinitely from the team, causing Gordon to transfer to Utah. He never played a game for the Utes, and it was too late for him to declare for the Supplemental Draft.

In 2012, Gordon did declare for the Supplemental Draft, where he was taken by the Browns. His first year in the NFL, he showed everyone what a talent he can be, as he finished the season among the top rookie receivers, with 50 catches, 805 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Those numbers look great, considering the team was quarterbacked by Brandon Weeden.

In 2013, Gordon had back-to-back 200 yard receiving games. And, despite being handicapped in a sense, by inept quarterbacks Weeden and Jason Campbell, Gordon finished 2013 with 87 catches, 1,646 yards, and 9 touchdowns. Those numbers earned him a spot in the Pro Bowl, and garnered him the Cleveland Chapter PWFA Player of the Year award.

Granted, his numbers were considerable off in 2014, due to the multiple game suspensions. He finished with only 24 catches for 303 yards in 5 games. And then, of course, 2015, where he didn’t play at all.

Now, here, it really depends on your point of view. Are you one who can overlook all the history of bad choices Gordon has made, and look strictly at the numbers? I mean, after all, former Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor was a notorious cocaine addict, quitting only because a third positive test would have kicked him out of the league for good. There was once a time where we all looked the other way as to what our Sunday heroes did off the field, just as long as they produced on Sunday.

In this day and age where everyone has a cell phone with a camera, TMZ is always watching, and it seems nobody has any real privacy, we can no longer allow ourselves to do that. The video of Ray Rice in the elevator changed so much of that “old school” outlook we once had. Character is becoming just as big a factor as anything with today’s NFL players. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the number of people teams hire to do full scale background checks on players. Where one team might have had a guy or two do a cursory check in years past, now it feels as if the full weight of the CIA is being used on these checks. And, more often than not, they always find something.

So let’s assume Gordon is reinstated. And, let’s assume new Browns head coach Hue Jackson just doesn’t want to deal with the trouble, a la Johnny Manziel. Is it worth it for the Eagles to take a flyer on Gordon? He’s well-rested, that’s for certain. He would come back, feeling he has something to prove to the rest of the league, that he can be an elite player. Or, do the Eagles look at all of the baggage and decide it’s not worth the risk. Assuming the team acquired Gordon, one would have to think they would assign him a full-time chaperone, or a team of chaperones, of sorts, to monitor his every move. It seems like a lot, but, if he could produce a season like 2013, some might say the risk was worth the reward.

I don’t want him. The previous transgressions are far too much for me to overlook. One time doing marijuana, I might be compelled to overlook and forgive. Multiple offenses show a pattern of very bad choices, and a little bit of selfishness, on the part of the player. Gordon is an extreme talent. But, maybe that’s the problem. He’s extreme.

Fly Eagles Fly!

 

 

Photo: Cleveland Browns

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