The Pittsburgh Steelers are fortunate—perhaps depending on whom you ask—to have been able to see the successful return to the field of their (formerly) troubled wide receiver, Martavis Bryant, who has been suspended for 20 of his past 40 games—or 23 of 45 including the postseason—due to substance abuse violations.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is striving for an even more unlikely comeback. The former Baylor standout has basically spent the majority of his career under suspension at this point, including the past two and a half seasons, but he has recent received conditional reinstatement, and could return to the field by the end of this month.
the second-round pick from the 2012 supplemental draft recently opened up about some of his substance abuse issues, speaking with GQ magazine, in an interview in which he revealed that he drank alcohol or did some other form of drugs prior to “probably every game” he has ever played, college or professionally.
“I used to make a ritual of it before every game”, he said in the interview. “If I had already been drug tested that week, or the day before the game, I knew I had a couple days to buy to clean my system. Even before I was getting tested for alcohol, prior to my DWI in 2014, I would take the biggest bong rip I could”.
When asked, he said that he would describe himself as a “highly functioning” alcoholic, to no surprise. But he claims to realize that he has had to make changes not only to save his career, but to save his life.
“If I plan on having any type of a career, I’ll stop. But at this point I thought, If I want any type of a life, if I wanted to live”, he said to himself, then he will have to stop. “You’re never going back to ****ing work ever, if you can’t figure out how to live. Because at this point in time, the trajectory, you’re going to die. You’re going to kill yourself”.
The interview goes on into some harrowing accounts of the origin of his substance abuse, saying that he began to use drugs in middle school, stemming from “childhood and adolescent trauma-based fear”. He described it as self-medication, as is the case for many abusers.
“I didn’t plan on living to 18. Day-to-day life, what’s gonna happen next?”, he would ask. “So you self-medicate with Xanax, with marijuana, codeine—to help numb those nerves so you can just function every day”. He added that he feels it’s beneficial for him to now talk about these things.
He also said that he heard all the talk about him and that it affected him as well. He said that he had to move out of Cleveland to get away from it. “I’ve been harassed, had drinks thrown at me”, he said. He has been followed and heckled, and his family has been harassed while in the stands at games.