Josh Gordon’s last NFL game before his most recent suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy took place against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15 of the 2018 season. On Friday, 260 days after he was suspended indefinitely by the NFL, Gordon, who will be on the field Sunday when the New England Patriots host the Steelers on Sunday Night Football, issued a statement on his return to the NFL.
Gordon, who has missed two entire seasons while serving previous suspensions, was reinstated by the NFL last month.
“Before the 2019 season starts, I would like to address an issue that arose toward the end of last season,” Gordon wrote via Twitter. “It’s been well documented that I have battled substance abuse for quite some time. Unfortunately, I did not take the time to focus on a solution to my problem until this past year. I am eternally grateful for the constant support from the NFL, NFLPA and the Patriots organization.
” I also want to thank my family, friends and all the fans who supported me while I addressed this issue. Going forward, I will not be discussing the details of my past. I plan to focus on the present and getting better every day. I hope people will judge me on what I do now and in the future. I look forward to being a member of the Patriots once again his season and doing my part by contributing on and off the field.”
Gordon’s return is welcomed news for a Patriots team that recently placed N’Keal Henry on short-term IR. New England is also without Chris Hogan, a valuable member of the team’s two most recent Super Bowl-winning teams. Hogan, who led the NFL with an average of 17.9 yards per catch in 2016, signed with the Carolina Panthers during free agency. Gordon is slated to be New England’s No. 2 receiver alongside Julian Edelman, last year’s Super Bowl MVP.
The Patriots are also still trying to find a longterm solution at tight end following the retirement of Rob Gronkowski. Ryan Izzo, a seventh round pick in last year’s draft who didn’t catch a pass during the 2018 regular season, is currently listed as New England’s starting tight end.
Gordon, an All-Pro during the 2013 season, spent his first six NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns before being traded to the Patriots during the 2018 season. He quickly developed a rapport with quarterback Tom Brady, as Gordon was New England’s leading receiver before being hit with his season-ending suspension. In 11 games last season, Gordon caught 40 of 68 targets for 720 yards and three touchdowns.
Despite Gordon’s absence, the Patriots were still able to win their third Super Bowl in five years, presenting Gordon with a championship ring this past offseason. Gordon will now look to help New England become the first franchise in NFL history to win seven Super Bowls in 2019.
“Josh has worked hard,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said during Friday’s press conference, via NESN.com.”He’s created an opportunity for himself. But I’m excited for our entire team. Everybody’s worked hard, put a lot into it. It’s time to start playing. It’s time to see where we’re at. “This is what you put in all that time in the offseason (for). Training camp and OTAs and all the other things that go into it — this is what it’s for: starting regular-season games. So I think we’re all ready to go — or will be Sunday.”
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