Stew Milne//USA Today Sports

Ex-Browns CEO Joe Banner tells M&C he's not 'overly surprised' about Josh Gordon suspension

December 21, 2018 - 11:12 am
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By Evan Marinofsky

Reactions have been aplenty with the news breaking yesterday that Josh Gordon will leave the New England Patriots with another indefinite suspension from the league down the line.

On Friday morning, the Mut & Callahan show interviewed former Cleveland Browns chief executive officer Joe Banner. Banner was CEO when the Browns drafted Gordon and had a lot to say about the recent developments regarding a receiver who was once looked at as the future of the Browns.

"I know Josh [Gordon] so my first reaction was to feel bad to see that the struggle goes on for him," said Banner. "At the same time, those of us who worked with Josh [Gordon] all would pull for him and hope he could put this behind him and know it's a huge, huge struggle. Unfortunately not overly surprised by how things sit at the moment."

Banner was CEO for Gordon's first two years in the league -- 2012 and 2013 -- which were also his most productive. He talked about how the organization dealt with Gordon's issues at the time.

"I was there the year Josh [Gordon] actually had success and that was still a reasonably bumpy road," said Banner. "We had a plan, which it sounds like the Patriots did. We had significant professional help and involved friends and family trying to put together a program that gave him the best chance to succeed and most support possible.

"Some of the things you've read about -- the ideas of being late and some of the things people are aware with drug attics: dependability, and the ups and downs of people that face these problems are well know. During that year, Josh [Gordon] was in a better place with the people he was surrounded with. He was able to make it through the year and he was extremely productive on the field. People got a glimpse at what he was capable of doing."

And that they did. In 2012, he had five touchdowns and 805 yards receiving, as he played in all 16 games. The next year, Gordon led all receivers in yards receiving with 1,646. But even then, Banner knew this wasn't something that had any legs to it.

"At the time, we were doubting that it was sustainable," said Banner. "We looked into trading him. We ended up not doing that. But even at the time when he's having that tremendous success, it's hard to lock down the future and say we can count on this guy."

Later in the interview, Banner admitted he had an idea that Gordon was doing illegal things before games.

"When somebody is an addict, you have to take what they say with a grain of salt," said Banner. "I have no doubt that Josh [Gordon] was doing things he shouldn't have been and we were aware of it. I have no doubt that his performance on the field was incredible in light of some of those things. Josh was being tested on a very regular basis by the league and I think if his behavior was as extreme as it related to drugs, that he's admitted to, then those tests would've caught him."

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