Hue Jackson says Josh Gordon must 'work to make sure' transgressions revealed in SI story stay in past

Nate Ulrich, Akron Beacon Journal on

Published in Football

BEREA, Ohio -- The explosive Sports Illustrated story in which wide receiver Josh Gordon claims to have been in gunfights, sold drugs, stolen cars, served jail time for felony credit card theft and committed armed robbery as a teenage gang member in Houston is not being ignored by Browns coach Hue Jackson.

"He still has to earn the right to be here," Jackson said Wednesday. "He earned the right to get back here. He has to earn the right to be here each and every day. He has been outstanding thus far here.

"All of the things I think were talked about 1/8in SI's story that published Tuesday3/8 were past behaviors. Obviously, I think he understands that the antennas are up everywhere, and they should be. He has to do the work to make sure that those things are in his past."

Gordon is scheduled to play in his first regular-season game since Dec. 21, 2014, when the Browns (0-11) visit the Los Angeles Chargers (5-6) on Sunday. He has missed the past 44 games and 54 of the past 59 because of recurring violations of the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

Although many of the transgressions Gordon, 26, described in SI's story were from his high school and college days, writer Ben Baskin reported Gordon admitted to lying to him last month about his past drug use in the NFL after he volunteered conflicting information in a separate interview with GQ Magazine.

Asked if Gordon lying to a reporter in October makes him nervous, Jackson said, "Everything makes me nervous. It's not just Josh, right? I'm nervous about everything right now. We have stuff happening across the country. We have stuff happening here. There's all kinds of stuff going on. I'm nervous about everything to be honest with you."


Even if Gordon plays the final five games this season, the Browns -- and whoever's making decisions for them -- should weigh the revelations Gordon has made while figuring out his future with the team. He's scheduled to be a restricted free agent after the 2018 season.

"I'll keep those discussions between us in house, but trust me, we do try to vet out all of those things," Jackson said. "All of those things, we do have conversations about, and we do have those conversations with Josh about those things, too. I don't want you guys to think that we sweep anything under the carper and just keep on going. I don't proceed that way, and I don't think our organization proceeds that way."

When Baylor recruited receiver Corey Coleman, he got to know Gordon, who played for the Bears at the time. But Coleman said he "was blind" to the life of crime Gordon led. Coleman said he has since learned what Gordon has been through, and he read parts of SI's story.

"He's moved past that," Coleman said. "I can tell. His focus is not even on that. It's on being a better man, being a good dad to his little daughter.


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