Josh Gordon has played 35 games in his NFL career, and he has been suspended for 45. That doesn’t include the 12 games he missed last season after checking himself into rehab for drugs and alcohol, his first of two inpatient stints. He hasn’t played in the NFL since December 2014. But if all goes well, he’s now eligible to return for Cleveland’s Week 13 game on Dec. 3. It’s been a very long four years since the Browns receiver led the league in yards and made first-team all-pro in just his second season.
Gordon, who was conditionally reinstated by the league last week, spoke to GQ for an interview in which he details the quest for sobriety, and in case you didn’t know, this is what addiction looks like:
We would stay at the team hotel and then players are allowed to go back home, get what they need, and then go to the game. So I’d leave the hotel early morning, go home, eat breakfast, do my little ritual, whatever it may be, some weed, some alcohol, and then go to the game. And then, I’d definitely be partying after every game, win or lose. Every game.
I used to make a ritual of it before every game. 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. And try to conceal all the smell off all my clothes. I’d be dressed up to go to the game. A bunch of guys smoke weed before the game. But we’re not talking about them.
I would have these little pre-made shots. I used to love Grand Marnier. I could drink it down smooth. I could usually drink a lot of it. But if it wasn’t that, it might be a whiskey or something. And I would drink probably like half a glass, or a couple shots to try and warm my system up, basically. To get the motor running. That’s what I would do for games.
Gordon, who estimates that he was on something for “every game of my career,” including college, says he variously used marijuana, Xanax, codeine, and alcohol, and that he began taking drugs in middle school. He’s moved away from Cleveland because, he says, it was a bad place for him—Browns fans picking fights, harassing him, vandalizing his car. He says he’s an addict and a functioning alcoholic, and he sounds comfortable saying it. I hope we see him back on the field soon.