There’s a lot of writing on my plate with OD at the moment. I’m incredibly grateful for this because once the drug haze settled I realized writing, along with interviews, are the only two things that really bring me enjoyment. However, to properly illustrate my point you must know this has been one of the most writing intense weeks of my life. So when the thought to stop the six writing projects already underway to hammer out a piece on Josh Gordon and fantasy football plopped into my head I had to put myself in timeout. Millions of thoughts pop into my head every second and the ability to recognize the ones that are bullshit is a fundamental life skill in my humble opinion.
Josh Gordon the Football Player
I didn’t know much about Josh Gordon- shoot I don’t know much about fantasy football. He wasn’t on my radar until this week when I was goofing around with trades scenarios for fantasy football. The memory of the guy having some run-in with drugs in the past crept into my head, but I never knew his story. After settling on a proposed trade (Gordon for Jamaal Williams), I got curious and did a little recon. A few googles run later and I determined I’m either delusional again (mostly joking) or there’s something of value in all the coincidences. After reading his GQ article I felt writing this became less of an option, once the interest transcended football, I had to do it because how deeply I identified with him.
Speaking from the football perspective the Browns just might be the codependent ex-wife, buying into the facade so long as it aligned with their (her) expectations. The Patriots seem to be the sort of structured, well-oiled machine, consistently unearthing brilliance in obsession. A level I’ve found attainable when engaged (Quicken Loans). It’s also the environment that will push you past the brink of sanity when addiction is active.
My rationale, why I jumped on the Gordon wagon the second it rolled into town, is based on that being true. Consider me crazy, but I like recognizing the genius in addiction, and I wanted to get behind a mentally volatile dude with a history of drug abuse because I felt were probably cut from the same clothe. At 6’3, 225 lbs, and only 27 years old Josh Gordon could be Randy Moss 2.0 but for twice the length of time. That was the reasoning behind why I wanted Josh Gordon the fantasy football player.
Josh Gordon the Man
I didn’t write this article for Josh Gordon the football player, I wrote it for Josh Gordon the man. On some level, one of the reasons I used was because everything came too easy for me both in the materialistic and academic sense. Expectations were easily met without doing anything, so I never did much of anything. When everyone told me school would become more difficult and I would have to apply myself (college), it didn’t. In large part because I love writing: I’m good at it, articulate, and well spoken. Being a (mostly) white dude in America, this should have been enough for a good life. Not a fan of dragging race into it, but the fact is Josh had real problems, and I was coddled.
Why do you think you used?
Initially it started for me, [because of] a lot of childhood and adolescent trauma-based fear. I was using in my childhood. That environment brought me into that a lot sooner than a normal—whatever normal is—kid should be brought into that, to be able to make a decision on their own of what to do. I didn’t want to feel anxiety, I didn’t want to feel fear. I didn’t plan on living to 18. Day-to-day life, what’s gonna happen next? So you self-medicate with Xanax, with marijuana, codeine—to help numb those nerves so you can just function every day. That became the norm from middle school to high school. So by the time I got into my 20s, I was on an accelerated pace…From the GQ Interview
How I can Relate
Truthfully, that’s where it started from for me. The anxiety, the fitting in and stuff. Not being comfortable with who I was. Socially, I felt awkward, talking with people, telling them where I was living. Other kids have nicer stuff than you, “you’re poor” type of shit. A lot of inadequacy, I think, is the reason why I initially got into it..
Fear-trauma is a common theme for most with substance abuse while needing a release is always present: a release from fear, anxiety, or pain. Inadequacies come from low self-worth, while low self-worth comes from volatility in your environment. I believe the two of us started using so young in order to curb the same feelings, felt entirely for different reasons. In my case, the difference in effort exerted to get C’s at Heritage High School and Honors at Central Michigan University was almost negligible looking back.
In large part, that was the problem for me and for Josh too. I’ve always found the term, “functioning alcoholic,” interesting. What is it? Personally, I define addiction as a compulsion that negatively affects other areas of life. If that’s the case are you really “functioning” if not at 100? Sure I was miserable, using copious amounts of drugs, hated life and those around me but I’d thought of myself as functioning for years.
To the Addict
Back when you were playing in the NFL, would you describe that person as a “functioning alcoholic”?
Highly functioning. For sure. [I] definitely pushed the limit. I don’t know how I did it. It could be before games, it could be before practice, after practice. You see other guys kinda doing it, but I would take it to another level a lot of times. Feeling as though I was being enabled, I thought it was an okay thing to do: Well, this is the norm. And it wasn’t. It definitely wasn’t.-From the GQ Interview
When you use, you rationalize it (see: Pillar 3). You tell yourself it’s ok because the other guys are doing it without acknowledging the other guys do it once or maybe on the weekends while you do it when you wake up, before work, before class, before games, every day, and twice on Friday.
Did people know?
When I got to the league, I think they had their doubts from the very beginning. From the day they drafted me, they had to know there was some type of risk involved. I don’t think that they specifically knew. But I’m sure they had their doubts. [I] missed a lot of meetings, showed up late a lot of times, eyes were probably bloodshot on many occasions. But I guess you couldn’t really draw a definitive conclusion because I thought I was evasive enough. And because nobody told me anything. But I’m pretty sure somebody thought something. Definitely in college, for sure, they knew. There’s a good chance. More than likely.-From the GQ Interview
This is me. It also explains why we’ve got a terrible way of viewing addiction because we spend entirely too much time on asking the wrong questions. Here is how addiction works: generally speaking, people have some level of resistance on the spectrum of mental dependency. I think that I was an addict before I was addicted because I had no resistance to mental dependency. The reason this happened was that I had an obsessive compulsion to pleasurable stimuli. After a significant amount of discussion along with self-reflection, i believe this was because I had a fundamental misunderstanding between pleasure and happiness.
We need to move on from the question, “is addiction a disease or a choice?” Not that it really matters, but I’ll answer that one too. Most people argue it starts with a choice, in most cases, at my estimate for 90% of the population this is true it starts with a choice. Like being fat and having high cholesterol, it’s a disease you could do something about if you properly assess the risks associated with it. However, for what I estimate to be 10% of the population (me) there isn’t a choice.
This is generally the result of an underlying mental illness, or to mask a trauma. Whether it was something that caused low self-worth or you are just crazy it doesn’t much matter what the cause, what it means is that the normally applicable shield to mental addiction doesn’t exist. This is how someone is an addict before dope. This is me, I think this might be my new friend Josh Gordon.
Think of the Children!
The next question we need to move on from is the idea that gateway drugs are still a thing. All drugs are not created equal and this line of though inadvertently creates that notion. Talking about alcohol and marijuana causes too much attention to alcohol and marijuana. Children are far more observant than we realize. Talking to them about alcohol and weed has no value because of there prevalence in society. Frankly, it’s insulting to kids that we would think an hour-long class for a few weeks would shape their beliefs on the two substances when they see them around all their life. By preaching abstinence, we lose credibility. Shifting the effort to risk assessment and away from hardline sobriety would greatly improve the messages received.
Kids think you’re full of shit because you’ve told them not to smoke weed, yet life seems manageable after doing so. Since kids are such rational little bastards they rationalize your shit credibility probably applies to other drugs too. Josh and I didn’t develop substance dependency because we followed the gateway theory, we did because you spent so much time telling us how detrimental marijuana and alcohol were while all the while drinking booze and smoking pot.
How hard is it for you to sit here and talk about these things?
It’s beneficial for me at this point. The more I get it out, the more I feel better about it. The more that other people know, the more I feel at ease walking the streets, without this target on my back. Without having to look over my shoulder. It’s therapeutic for me.-From the GQ Interview
I considered how I would answer that question and I wasn’t expecting my response. Today, for me, it’s easy. That’s something I’d never imagined saying given that talking about most anything has been uncomfortable all my life, until about twelve months ago. Talking about addiction after more than 10 years active use and being just a pinch out of my mind are the easiest things in the world for me. Go figure.
If you could make those people understand one thing about you, what would you say?
Football is not who I am. It’s what I do. And for me, everything that you may see or read, it’s all through one lens, it’s one perception. And unfortunately, living in a world where you’re in the public eye, perception is their reality. But for me, my reality is entirely different. It’s being a father now to a two-year-old daughter. It’s being a good friend, a teammate, a son, a brother. The normal things are what I’m prioritizing now. The rest of this stuff, it’s really kind of supplemental. It’s really for the benefit of entertainment. It’s like, Wanna Keep Up With Josh, like it’s a TV show. What happens out there, happens out there. But just that perception and reality are not the same. Not from my side of table, at least.-From the GQ Interview
Well shit. This, combined with the recent Instagram post, “Anyone needs a deep threat WR,” equal red flags fantasy football Josh Gordon, this is a bad sign for your value. On the flip side, real-life Josh Gordon you just gained a fan! As I said, I didn’t write this for you, fantasy football Josh Gordon. My entire life I tried being something I’m not. I had an image of this life: a family, a certain income bracket, and two dogs. It wasn’t me, it was a mirage of the expectations around me. I was so worried about adhering to this image, others view of normalcy, that I never learned who I was.
Why this hurts Fantasy Football Josh Gordon is because I don’t think real world Josh Gordon wants to be a football player. Or, maybe it’s that real-world Josh Gordon wants to be more than a football player. Whatever the case, do you, what it is you want to do Josh because the dope doesn’t stop if you’re miserable.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s freaking sweet you’re a football player. You could be Randy Moss 2.0 if that’s your move. Or it’s cool to make a dollar with football whatever you wanna put into it you can. I think that nine touchdown, 1,646-yard season you had in 2013 while playing two games short was your CMU Josh Gordon. Simply be mindful my dude football isn’t you. You need to find what it is that defines you. From the sound of it, your daughter has majorly reset your perspective and that’s awesome. I’m pretty sure kids provide some sort of reason to live, purpose to life. I would like to dedicate this piece to Kevin Collison. Kevin, this is why you have no choice but to trade Josh Gordon to me.