The numbers for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon this season have been sensational. The league's leader with 1,467 receiving yards, Gordon has scored a touchdown in five straight games. He is arguably the best receiver in the NFL over the last half of the season.
It has been an amazing 2013 for a player who started the season on suspension.
A positive drug test cost him the first two games of this year with a league-mandated suspension. Another positive test and he would be suspended for a full year. There were rumors during the season that the Browns were trying to trade Gordon.
Gordon explained that the positive test that cost him a two-game suspension was for codeine in some cough medicine he took during the offseason. That explanation drew some rolled eyes from fans and certainly the media.
But he is answering every question on the field. There are no more eyes rolling when his name is brought up.
“Definitely from the point I got back, I definitely decided to try to make as big of an impact as I could for the team, for the offense and being the biggest playmaker possible for this team," Gordon said.
The road to NFL stardom has been anything but easy. He entered the NFL via the supplemental draft after a rough and rocky college career, and was selected in the second round. He was suspended twice at Baylor for using marijuana, and then transferred to Utah but never played there because of a failed drug test, giving him a very limited resume prior to the draft. NFL teams had huge questions about his character.
Then there was the failed drug test this offseason and the possibility of a long-term suspension that could have cut short his NFL career. To his credit, Gordon has turned his back on the poor decisions and choices that have marked much of his career in college and first year in the NFL.
It was a message from head coach Rob Chudzinski, who asked Gordon to get serious about his career, that translated to a change off the field. It was a message that has led to Gordon finally fulfilling his on-field promise.
“He’s really been playing at a high level and really come a long way going back all the way in the spring," Chudzinski said. "He’s a guy who hasn’t played a lot. You go back to his college days and he really only had one year there, played one year here in the NFL, was injured for parts of that. And really a guy who didn’t have a lot of experience playing the position and so he’s really worked at it. He’s quiet, a guy that really loves playing football ... and really jumped in the spotlight in the last month or so.
“He’s taken very well to that. The bottom line is Josh loves playing football and so he recognized that to do that he’d need to mature and learn what it takes to be a pro and learn what it takes to be a great receiver in this league and his work ethic has been outstanding, his commitment has been outstanding in those areas. He’s really completely made a turnaround.”
Gordon never really fulfilled his promise in college at Baylor or Utah. There was always something missing from his game. He discovered it in the NFL by finding his own inner peace. He is finally maturing off the field and shining on it.
“It's been definitely a crazy roller coaster ride,” Gordon said.
The scary thing for opposing defensive coordinators is the ride may have just begun.
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Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and also contributes to Yahoo Sports. He can be followed for news and random tweetingson Twitter @KristianRDyer