In general, NFL receivers are known as “divas,” high-maintenance players who need the ball and attention—and are quick to let it be known.
Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns is more that a “diva.” He’s a diva with issues, and that’s why he finds himself suspended and seeking to become a free agent, although his contract with the team is not up until 2016.
For a player who has been suspended by the league for substance abuse violations and DUI arrests but is still in the league, it would stand to reason that he would be the poster child for showing up on time or anything else that depicts he appreciates his status in the league.
And yet yesterday, Gordon missed a team meeting the day before the final game of the season. The Browns, who covet his immense talents, are frustrated by the uncertainty Gordon brings, and put him on the reserve/suspended list.
This is significant because Gordon’s behavior impacts others who come behind him, young receivers with a controversial past that teams might back away from with Gordon in mind. Is that young player worth the potential trouble?
That’s how it is—in the NFL and in business: The Black employee before you sets the standards, creates the opportunities or blows the opportunities for the Blacks that come behind you. It goes without saying that white employees don’t carry the same burden. Someone like former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito gets in trouble for being a bullying a teammate, but his misdeeds have no burden on others who come behind him because his actions are not a barometer for young white offensive lineman. That’s just how it is.
Gordon, meanwhile, is on a self-destructive, selfish path, unable to see beyond his needs and into a bigger picture of leading.
Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys came off originally as a “diva” who would be an issue for the team. He had legal issues and was bashed for acting out on the sideline when he did not get the ball. Bryant righted himself, however. He has had no troubles off the field and has been among the best, most lethal receivers in the NFL.
Bryant’s success is being offset by Gordon’s mess. The Brown receiver is talented as all get out: He led the league in receiving last year. He’s big and fast and has sure hands. But he is unsure of his future.
Gordon, who has missed 12 games due to suspensions in the last two years, was set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2015 season but needed to play six games—or be paid for six game weeks—to get the accrued season in 2014. Now he won’t become an unrestricted free agent until after the 2016 season, since players must have four NFL seasons to reach such status, unless he is successful in his efforts to get paid for his Week 17 absence.
If he does not get paid for this week, he will be a restricted free agent after the 2015 season, meaning the Browns would have the right to match an offer sheet if he signed one with another team.
By then, depending on what he does, the Browns might not want Gordon on their squad, which would be a shame considering his youth (23) and talent. Between then and now, maybe someone will impress upon Gordon that his behavior impacts more than just himself. Maybe if he understood that he’s influencing the impressions of others behind him he will straighten up and be a leader and abandon the nonsense. It would serve a lot of people, including himself, well.