CLEVELAND, Ohio --In previous offseasons, Josh Gordon was hanging out at Coachella, causing trouble with Johnny Manziel, getting arrested for DUIs and otherwise messing up his promising NFL career and life.
This offseason, all of that has changed. He's participating in the Browns offseason program for the first time in four years, and looking every bit the Pro Bowler he was in 2013. His body is chiseled, his hands are like pillows and he's got a smile on his face instead of a distant look.
"I feel pretty good right now,'' he said after the first day of Browns minicamp. "Life is great right now. And that's kind of all know. Life is good now.''
Instead of spending his summer break in some exotic locale, he'll be right here at the Browns' facility, working on his body and mind.
"After minicamp I plan on coming back in the best shape I've ever been in, looking to make a really big splash,'' he said.
With a whole offseason under his belt, Gordon plans on rocking the NFL even more than he did in 2013, when he led the league with 1,646 and became the first receiver in NFL history with back-to-back 200 yard games.
"I plan on exceeding those goals and everything that I've done in the past and build on it,'' he said. "Whatever it takes for me to get some wins and do my part where I leave no question in anybody's mind that Josh did everything he could do to try and get us a win or get us a win, then I can walk away with whatever the stat line is.''
Gordon says the Browns have the best receiving corp in the NFL
Hue Jackson taking notice
After catching a slant from Tyrod Taylor in team drills Tuesday, Gordon drew oohs and aahs from his teammates, and a pat on the back from coach Hue Jackson, who's come to appreciate Gordon as a player and as a person.
"He's working at it,'' said Jackson. "I'm proud of him. We all are in the organization, because that's something that's tough. We've tried to create the right environment for him to be all that he can be. We've supported him. He's done what we've asked him to do. So far, so good.''
Gordon says Taylor and Mayfield are 'the most talented QBs he's seen here - by far'
Gordon, who was suspended for 44 straight games and 54 of the previous 59 before returning for the final five games of last season, takes life in 24-hour increments these days. His priorities are staying sober, being a good father to his toddler daughter, and football.
"It's just one day at a time,'' he said. "You got today and that's all we're really given.''
There was a time when he white-knuckled it through those long days, looking for a way to escape and hoping to pass the next random drug test.
"It definitely gets easier as time goes on,'' he said. "Day after day you feel a lot less anxious.''
These days, he's grateful for things like food, shelter and friendship.
"The small victories, to me, is just like getting up and not having to worry about some type of security or a place to stay, or like just spending time with my daughter,'' he said. "I didn't get to spend any time with my family like that in the past. Being there with friends, working towards the future. I take pride in and joy in a lot of little things.''
Mentoring Antonio Callaway
Gordon has also unwittingly helped himself by mentoring fourth-round receiver Antonio Callaway, who came in with one strike again him in the substance abuse program from a dilute sample at the NFL combine, and several strikes against him in the legal system. Gordon sees a lot of himself in the young receiver, both on and off the field.
"I talk to him all the time,'' said Gordon. "We talk every day, and I know how it is definitely being in that scenario. You don't necessarily want outside pressure just prying into your life and trying to get you to open up. Naturally, he's just being himself, and that's all I want him to do, just being able to focus on the game and the task at hand for right now.''
Gordon's approach with Callaway is to lead by example.
"I've known Antonio since he was at Florida,'' he said. "We were training together in Gainesville. I've seen him then, and I've seen him now. He's come a long way. He's got a great attitude, great guy, and he's a great football player more than anything.''
Want news content for your site?