CLEVELAND — Josh Gordon’s personal journey, from star to suspension to sobriety, has reached a new dawning.
He’s getting yet another chance to resurrect his football career and life.
Cleveland’s gifted wide receiver has been conditionally reinstated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who met with the Browns former Pro Bowler on Wednesday in New York and is allowing him to return after a nearly three-year absence.
Gordon, who hasn’t played since the 2014 season, can immediately join the team for meetings, engage in conditioning work and individual workouts. He has to comply with requirements set forth by Goodell and can begin practicing with the team on Nov. 20.
The 26-year-old will be eligible — at the team’s discretion — to return to active status on Nov. 27 or remain on the commissioner’s exempt list for an additional week before returning to active status.
“As emphasized at today’s meeting, everyone — including Josh’s teammates and coaches, the Browns’ ownership and organization, the program professionals and all of us at the league office — want him to have every opportunity to resume his career and to be successful in the NFL,” Goodell said.
“Whether that happens, however, at the end of the day will depend on Josh. His commitment to sobriety and to reaching his goals in football and beyond will determine his success. It ultimately is up to Josh.”
If he abides by Goodell’s stipulations, Gordon could play in Cleveland’s final five games this season.
Gordon has been in and out of rehab over the past year, and there are many fans who feel he has been given more breaks than he deserved. He had been suspended indefinitely since 2016 for multiple violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.
The Browns have remained supportive of Gordon through his challenges.
“We’ve been informed of the league’s decision to reinstate Josh,” said Sashi Brown, the team’s executive vice president of football operations. “The personal well-being of all our players is of the utmost importance to us.
“We respect and commend Josh for taking the steps necessary to have the opportunity to return to the league. Josh will be in our building in the coming days and we look forward to having him back and sitting with him to discuss his future on our team.”
Gordon has missed Cleveland’s past 41 games and hasn’t played in the regular season since Dec. 21, 2014, following numerous violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.
The Browns, who have started 0-8 this season and are 1-15 in two seasons under coach Hue Jackson, have control of his contract for two more seasons.
The Browns have a pressing need for a playmaker at wide receiver and Gordon can fill that void if he can stay clean.
Gordon’s petition for reinstatement was rejected by the league in May and he was told he could reapply in the fall.
Last month, during leave for a rehab facility in Florida, Gordon revealed the depths of his addiction in a mini-documentary on Uninterrupted.com. He disclosed his long history of alcohol and drug abuse and acknowledged taking Xanax, cocaine, marijuana and other narcotics.
Gordon emerged as one of the league’s bright young stars in 2013 when he led the league with 1,646 yards receiving and scored nine touchdowns.