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Josh Gordon and NFL can learn from suspension

Posted Aug 27, 2014

Senior Editor Vic Carucci says that, hopefully, the Browns’ wide receiver and the league can find beneficial lessons.

Josh Gordon

The ultimate responsibility for Josh Gordon’s year-long suspension falls on Josh Gordon.

He knew the rules. He broke them. He paid the price.

Hopefully, Gordon learns from the punishment, which is as severe as it gets in the NFL.

Hopefully, he can come back and return to his status as one of the very best wide receivers the game has ever seen.

Those are questions that won’t be answered for quite some time.

For now, the Browns are left with dealing with the massive hole on their roster.

The only good (and I use that term loosely) news in the wake of the NFL announcing Wednesday that it is banishing Gordon for a year for violating its substance-abuse policy is that there is closure to what seemingly was an endless decision-making process.

Coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan can finally go about the business of preparing for a season without their biggest difference-maker at any position and the one known quantity in an area where question marks abound.

General Manager Ray Farmer and the rest of the Browns’ player-personnel staff can finally go about the business of trying to see what options there might be to fill a vacancy at wide receiver, while knowing full well that someone of Gordon’s extraordinary talents likely won’t be found … especially with the start of the regular season fast approaching.

This story has dragged on since early May, when word of Gordon’s pending suspension first became public. There’s no doubting that it wore on the Browns through an otherwise mostly upbeat offseason that, thanks to a promising draft and solid free-agent acquisitions, gave way to unprecedented public and national media interest in the team’s training camp and preseason.

Was the incredibly lengthy amount of time it took for the league to make a ruling a problem for the Browns?

In one sense, yes, because knowing before the start of training camp would have at least allowed the coaches to structure practice repetitions accordingly. It might also have encouraged the Browns to be more aggressive in pursuing wide-receiver help beyond the likes of Miles Austin and Nate Burleson (whose ability to fill the void is at least clouded by injury history), and Anthony Armstrong, who was released earlier this week.

Perhaps there’s a lesson for the NFL to learn from this suspension as well. Perhaps the league could have greater consideration for the impact of the timetable and do more to avoid keeping the next player and team involved in a similar situation from twisting in the wind for so long.

Ultimately, however, the largest dilemma the Browns face is that they won’t have their best player on the field this season.

Ultimately, the cause of that rests with Josh Gordon.

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