Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was reinstated to the NFL this week from his indefinite drug ban, defends his friendship with former teammate Johnny Manziel, the troubled quarterback who is currently out of a job.
Gordon had a meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last week and was welcomed back to the league Monday on a conditional basis. He can join the team at training camp, which started Thursday, and participate in meetings, conditioning work and similar activities. He will be permitted to participate in all preseason activities, including practices and games.
Gordon will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season and will be eligible to return to the team beginning Monday, Oct. 3. During this suspension, Gordon may participate in team meetings and other activities but may not attend or participate in practices or games.
"It's difficult to take people inside that relationship, but that's one of my good friends,'' Gordon told Cleveland.com when asked about Manziel on the first day of training camp. "I'm always going to be there to support him and that's what I'm trying to do and that's what he wanted to do for me. We're definitely two different people headed down two different paths and we'll all reach our outcome at a different point in time.
"But that's my friend, first and foremost. But for the sake of my career I have to do what I have to do. And for him, going through what he has to go through to get where he needs to be, that's on him. I'll definitely be there for him regardless of the media, but I have to do what's right for me right now and he has to do what's right for him.''
Manziel, a Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M and first-round pick by Cleveland in 2014, has been plagued by numerous issues that include drinking and a pending domestic assault case. On June 30, the NFL suspended Manziel four games for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
Gordon and Manziel have spent a lot of time together in the offseason and the two were together as recently as last week.
Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam addressed the team on Thursday and stressed that they want no distractions this season.
"We're all working very hard on staying committed to do right by Mr. Haslam and Mrs. Haslam and make this organization into something that Cleveland can be proud of,'' Gordon said.
Gordon had been suspended indefinitely since February 2015 without pay for multiple violations of the NFL-NFLPA Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.
Gordon, 25, was suspended for two games in 2013, 10 games in 2014 and the entire 2015 season. He caught 87 passes for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns during his Pro Bowl 2013 season.