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An Open Letter To Charles Barkley and Co, by Josh Gordon, Medium

Stashed in: Football, @jguynn, Marijuana, Medium, @josh_gordonxii, Cleveland Browns, Letters

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Oh man, I love Josh Gordon.

I succeeded by escaping a youth riddled with poverty, gang violence and very little in the way of guidance or support. I succeeded by narrowly avoiding a life of crime that managed to sink its clutches into almost all of my childhood friends. I succeeded by working tremendously hard on my craft and my body to even have a chance to play professional football for a living. And, contrary to popular belief, I succeeded by overcoming my longstanding relationship with weed — because I knew I was risking my future over it.

Truth is, I have not smoked marijuana since before I was drafted by the Browns in 2012 — and there are years’ worth of drug tests to prove it.

I think he's right that the NFL has treated him unfairly.

Now, I messed up again. It happened about four weeks ago.

As most everyone knows, I missed a considerable portion of the 2014 season because I was suspended by the league. The details in relation to my reinstatement, however, are important to understand.

In connection with the DWI case, the league  —  in consideration of the fact that my blood-alcohol level was just .01 over the legal limit  —  agreed to shorten my punishment from four games lost to two. These games were tacked on to my eight-game suspension that had been levied on account of my inadvertently inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke last offseason.

That punishment  —  while harsh, given what my lab results clearly showed, including a backup sample that was under the league threshold  —  was just. I foolishly put myself in a precarious situation, one which I could have easily avoided if I had thought more clearly about the potential ramifications of my actions and who I chose to spend time around.

As a strict condition to my reinstatement in Week 12, I had to agree not only to abstain from drinking for the rest of the season, but also to submit to an alcohol screen as part of my in-season drug testing under the league’s substance-abuse protocol. Did I think that was excessive given I had never had any issue whatsoever with alcohol? Yes. Did I think it was hypocritical that a professional league making hundreds of millions of dollars off beer sponsorships was telling me not to drink? Yes. Did I so much as blink at the condition? No.

My primary concern was  —  and is  —  being the best football player I can be; I really didn’t even view it as much of a punishment or sacrifice.

On Jan. 2 of this year, just days after our season ended earlier than we all had hoped — and yes, my actions during the prior offseason definitely contributed to our failure to make the playoffs; it killed me seeing our guys fight so hard when I wasn’t out there with them — I boarded a private flight to Las Vegas with several teammates. During the flight, I had two beers and two drinks. It was the first time I had consumed so much as a drop of alcohol since July 4, 2014, the day of the DWI.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not much of a drinker. Even calling me a social drinker would be an exaggeration, but at that moment, on that flight, I made a choice. The wrong choice, as it turned out.

Upon landing, I received the all-too-familiar notice by phone that I was to report to a testing location within four hours. I failed the test, obviously, and the rest is history … colored by media speculation and faux outrage.

In the end, of course, I failed myself.

It doesn’t matter if I thought that the league-imposed restriction on drinking had expired at the end of the regular season; what matters is that I didn’t confirm whether or not that was the case. Now, that oversight has further jeopardized my relationship with my team and our fans, my reputation, and maybe even my career.

I hope he keeps playing. This year suspension by the NFL is uncalled for. 

Jessica Guynn post on WashPo stat about black men and crimes:

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