It’s well documented that Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon fights personal demons every day. They whisper in one ear and scream in the other, weighing Gordon down with anxiety.

To cope with his mental health problems, Gordon turned to alcohol and drugs, and it has very nearly cost him one of the most promising NFL careers of the last decade. Gordon’s demons may cost him still.

The NFL suspended Gordon indefinitely in Dec. 2018, and the troubled receiver said he was taking a break to focus on his mental health.

Friday afternoon, the NFL announced Gordon’s indefinite suspension is over. Sunday, Gordon is able to report to the New England Patriots training camp to begin workouts with his team. For anybody fighting a mental health fight such as Gordon, the stability that comes from a team environment, being around the people who care about you and want you to succeed, this is a good thing.

If Gordon contributes to the Patriots offense this season, great. If being with the team helps him beat his demons like an overmatched defensive back and live a healthy life, then this is a success.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell got this decision right, and deserves to be recognized for that. Anyone with a brain knows his batting average when it comes to discipline is weak. Goodell sees himself as a slugger, but in reality he’s a weak-hitter with no capacity for understanding the seriousness of domestic violence. Goodell has proven this, over and over and over.

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice didn’t face significant punishment until video surfaced of him hitting his fiancee. New York Giants kicker Josh Brown was initially suspended one game for domestic violence. After the public rightly called the NFL out on this nonsense, Goodell tacked six more games on to the suspension.

Most recently, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill was not suspended, despite the fact that his little boy suffered a broken arm, and Hill is on tape telling the boy’s mother she should be scared of him, too.

The NFL proved this a few years ago, when it went to court with Tom Brady over basic junior high science. Thanks to Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement, Goodell doesn’t need hard proof to suspend any player for anything. Article 46 basically gives the NFL commissioner free reign to discipline as he sees fit. The problem is, this commissioner is shockingly inconsistent when it comes to discipline, especially when it comes to domestic violence.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was suspended six games for allegedly abusing his girlfriend. No charges were filed. Goodell used Article 46 because he could. Why didn’t he use it the the case of Hill? Maybe Goodell was too busy lounging on the deck of his oceanfront mansion in Scarborough. It’s more likely he’s simply scared of angering longtime team owners like the Hunt family of Kansas City, who are more oblivious about domestic violence than he is.

The next time a domestic violence case comes across Goodell’s desk, the commissioner needs to visit a women’s shelter. Maybe then he would lose this obvious lack of empathy. He should also meet with an addiction recovery group to try to get a handle on what Gordon is going through.

The NFL is full of bad guys. Tyreek Hill is a bad guy. Hill entered the NFL with the cloud of domestic violence already hanging over him. The league ignored that, too. Gordon, by most accounts, is not a bad guy. Gordon is weak in the face of an addiction and a mental health fight, and that weakness makes him an easy target for Goodell, who would rather brush aside a problem than try to understand it.

Goodell and the NFL have a no tolerance policy of convenience. No issue is ever black and white, but when it comes to dishing out punishment, Goodell has less nuance than an Adam Sandler movie.

Fromer Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt is suspended eight games to start the upcoming season. It took video proof of Hunt pushing a woman to get the NFL to do something about it, after Hunt had played most of the 2018 season with the Chiefs. Now Hunt is in Cleveland, where he’ll be welcomed with a big group hug.

Unless Hunt uses the arms he used to shove a woman to light a joint. In that case, tone-deaf Goodell will likely throw the book at him.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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