Jackson: Josh Gordon 'needs help'

ByJames Walker ESPN logo
Monday, July 7, 2014

Indianapolis Colts linebacker and former Cleveland Browns team captain D'Qwell Jackson recalls multiple occasions when he tried to help troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon.

Jackson and Gordon were teammates for two seasons in 2012 and 2013. As a nine-year veteran, Jackson took it upon himself to counsel Gordon about focusing on football and doing the right things off the field. That is particularly why Gordon's arrest on July 5 for suspected DWI in Raleigh, North Carolina, hit home for Jackson and led to one of the most thoughtful tweets from the NFL community.

If you're close to Josh Gordon please help this kid, it's not about football anymore it's about picking up the pieces of his life.

- D'Qwell Jackson (@DQ52) July 5, 2014Gordon led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards last season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, it was the 14th time a player had more than 1,600 receiving yards in a season since the NFL merger in 1970 but Gordon was the only one of those players to have three different starting quarterbacks (Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer) during such a season.

But this latest arrest now puts his playing career in jeopardy.

"He needs help, he really does," Jackson told ESPN.com. "He needs people to extend themselves and probably have to do more than they wanted to do. But if [the Browns] care anything about the kid, they have to do it."

Two other people who have worked closely with Gordon told ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder that he has issues with substance abuse dating back to high school and have urged him to seek professional assistance. Those people also worry that Gordon may be in the process of ruining his career.

Jackson said he plans to reach out to Gordon again soon. But because Jackson and Gordon are no longer teammates and do not communicate regularly, Jackson said he's not sure Gordon would take his assistance.

Jackson thinks it will be up to current Browns teammates and those closer to Gordon to provide proper guidance in a time of need.

"At this point, calling the cellphone is not going to work," Jackson said. "You have to fly out to him. You have to fly out to wherever he is, take him to dinner and pick his brain to see what's important to him."

A league source told Werder that the Browns share some of the blame simply because they haven't helped to create a support system for Gordon despite knowing of the issues when they drafted him.

Jackson described Gordon as quiet around the team facility, a gamer and an unbelievable talent. But Gordon also was "one of those guys when he left the building that you worried about," according to Jackson.

Gordon currently is facing a potential yearlong suspension for a marijuana charge in May. According to ProFooballTalk.com, Gordon planned to appeal the ruling in late July to get the number of games reduced. But his chances of winning that appeal are virtually zero after this additional incident.

Jackson said Gordon's potential was off the charts as a football player. Now it is unknown when, or whether, the 23-year-old Gordon will get another chance to return to the NFL.

"Josh Gordon was a big piece of the Browns' future; it's just unfortunate he didn't view it that way," Jackson said. "He is so valuable. He doesn't understand how valuable he is to an organization. He has no clue."

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