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Reunited with Browns, Gordon says he's sober, aiming to be 'best wide receiver of all time'

Nate Ulrich, Akron Beacon Journal on

Published in Football

BEREA, Ohio -- Josh Gordon returned to the Browns this week clean and sober and with his ultimate NFL dream intact.

Those were the messages the talented wide receiver whose life and career have been plagued by addiction problems sent Wednesday when he spoke to Browns beat writers for the first time in more than a year.

"My goal is to be the best wide receiver of all time," Gordon said. "And now being back in the situation to do it, I plan on seeing it through."

Gordon reunited with the Browns on Tuesday after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reinstated the 2013 All-Pro selection on a conditional basis Nov. 1. He has missed the last 41 games and 51 of the past 56 because of several violations of the league's substance-abuse policy.

He's attending meetings and working out under the guidance of the strength and conditioning staff. If he meets the terms of his reinstatement, he'll be eligible to start practicing Nov. 20 and play in the final five games beginning Dec. 3 at the Los Angeles Chargers.

Gordon, 26, recently told GQ Magazine he smoked marijuana or drank alcohol before "probably every game" of his collegiate and professional careers.

"I'm clean and sober, and I'm looking forward to 1/8playing without being under the influence3/8, and I think the ceiling is very high," Gordon said.

Gordon's reunion with the Browns comes on the heels of him spending more than three months in rehab in Florida. His fourth known stint in rehab ended in late September.

"My life is just in a conducive space where I need to be for me psychologically, physically," he said. "It's all come together. So right now at this point in time in my life, I'm feeling well. I'm feeling great."

Gordon said he believes his battle to stay sober "gets easier" by the day. He explained he always thought a comeback was possible and credited his "newfound obsession of improvement" on and off the field for gaining re-entry into the league. Gordon said he hopes to wake up every day with the goal of improving as a person, and he wants to become involved in the life of his 2-year-old daughter.

"I want to play for my family, for my daughter, being an example for my daughter," said Gordon, who led the league with 1,646 receiving yards four years ago despite playing only 14 of 16 games.

Gordon said he was excited, grateful and optimistic Tuesday when he reported to Browns headquarters for the first time since he left the team in September 2016 to begin his third trip to rehab. He said his meeting with coach Hue Jackson was filled with laughs and smiles.

"He's just shown his support throughout the entirety of my transition coming back," Gordon said, "and I'm glad to be working with him."

However, Gordon didn't shoot down the notion that he wants to leave the Browns.

Asked if he wants to be in Cleveland, he said, "I'm here to help the team win. That's my first priority, just being the best football player I can be. That comes first and foremost. Anything after that I have no control over."

He didn't fault the Browns, though, for being fed up with him after he left them last season to check into rehab. The team's bigwigs had decided to wash their hands of Gordon, only to eventually change their minds.

"Considering my situation, I believe that's fair, the frustration aspect of it 1/8from the Browns3/8," Gordon said. "Myself, the franchise, the fans, everybody was frustrated at that point in time, so I understand it. I believe me and Coach Jackson and 1/8head of football operations3/8 Sashi Brown and the front office have moved on. They obviously welcomed me back into the organization, so that's in the past and we're looking forward to this year."

As for the claim Gordon made to GQ about Browns fans harassing him and prompting him to move to Gainesville, Fla., he said, "That was just my experience and me telling the story. That was my truth, but what was doesn't have to be."

Gordon has powerful allies from Northeast Ohio. Although he hasn't entered a formal business relationship with LeBron James and Maverick Carter, he said "they have been instrumental as far as just helping putting things into play and giving advice and some mentorship."

He also expressed gratitude to the Browns, NFL and NFL Players Association for playing roles in his return. He said he's thankful to have Goodell in his "corner" and knows he "can lean on him and rely on him."

Gordon said Goodell wouldn't be surprised by anything he told GQ because he was just as forthcoming during his meeting with the commissioner.

"I'm just trying to be as transparent and as honest as I can be," Gordon said.

He has also been candid about what he thinks he can accomplish on the field.

"I plan on being the best, and I plan on working harder and outworking anyone else," he said. "I'm definitely confident in what I can produce."

Gordon hasn't played in the regular season since Dec. 21, 2014, but he insisted he doesn't regret letting years of his prime go to waste.

"That whole experience was definitely fundamental in my growth," he said. "I needed that."

(c)2017 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com

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