Josh Gordon Talks About Ritual Of Substance Abuse Before ‘Probably Every Game’

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.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Garrett Hunt

    If you were starting a team today and you had to take Bryant or Gordon to build off of, then who do you take?

  • Neither?

  • AndyR34

    Great question…probably Bryant…because of age and less time away from football.

  • Rick Rogers

    Gordon’s speaking the truth of substance abuse for a great many.

  • NCSteel

    Good luck dude.

  • nutty32

    Cleveland people threw drinks at him and heckled him and his family? Wow, unbelievable.

  • Darth Blount 47

    If I had to live in Cleveland, I’d probably self-medicate as well.

    Seriously though, he did illuminate a few things. One, it is more common I think than many realize — to get high before playing games. Perhaps a bit less in the NFL, but NBA players, for instance, are likely high every other night. Yes, you have watched a game and seen players play, where they had just smoked a blunt or “did bong rips,” just a few hours earlier. Let that sink in. Not to mention being high as a kite on painkillers. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Brett Favre admitted to being on a cocktail of Vodka/Vicodin before some games. If any of you have ever taken some painkillers, you know just how loopy they can make you, even versus something like pot.

    Also, reading about how he was treated in Cleveland is terrible. Makes me truly appreciate the fanbase we have here even more. If that’s possible. Lol. Though, I wouldn’t put it past a few of you to have thrown a rotten tomato at Bryant or maybe the Neil O’ Donnell’s, though I admittedly understand the latter. LOL.

    Call me crazy, naive, or a homer, but I honestly think the Gordon and Bryant situations feel different. I believe Bryant has truly turned that proverbial corner, while Gordon has definitely got to be considered a “wait and see,” right now still. Gordon has real talent, and I’d like to see him back and playing well, but I don’t think the Browns deserve to have him back at the level he used to be at in the beginning. Trade him to a team that needs and would appreciate him. I think the Cowboys would make a ton of sense. So would the Falcons or even, gulp, the Ravens.

  • capehouse

    What corner did Bryant turn? People have been saying that since before he was suspended for a year. What has he done to show you he’s changed? Weed is only affecting his availability. He’s still a douchebag.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I’m not going to dignify this with a response. Oh, wait….

  • capehouse

    One too many dots on your ellipsis.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Naw, 4 is used when you want to continue but are more than struggling to find a reason to do so. Usually when one is omitting a full sentence.