In My Ohio

​On Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel

Darren C. Demaree
​Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel are physically brilliant young men. They are well paid and famous because of those gifts. They also appear to have been gifted various substance abuse issues, and those issues are now threatening to remove every superlative ever uttered on their behalf. In the last two weeks, Manziel has entered rehab for undisclosed reasons, and Josh Gordon has been suspended (for the third time) for a minimum of the 2015 season due to his violation of the substance abuse caveats of his contract. This has led to speculation that the Cleveland Browns should rid themselves of these troubled young men, and save their resources and their roster spots for players that won’t disappoint them so greatly. That is absolutely the last thing that they should do.
These aren’t men that have been a threat to the locker room or to the team dynamic, these are men that have been privately injuring themselves on a consistent basis. That has cost the Browns. It has cost them on the field. It has embarrassed them in the press, because they appear to once again be lacking the ability to educate their players on league policies or to help them overcome their personal difficulties.
Substance abuse is a terribly lonely burden, and if the Browns and the NFL turn their backs on these men now a majority of their support systems and their egos will be damaged beyond repair. They will be thrown into a media firestorm that wants only to ask over and over again if they are now a ruined product. Aside from removing them from their teammates and their paychecks, they also would be removing the routine of two men that have dedicated themselves (mostly) to the pursuit of football careers. They would be left only with the tethers of self-preservation, family, and maybe their faith if that is something they hold close. Their days would open up completely, and that would be the greatest threat to their safety.
So, while the question of what the Browns should do will be asked over and over again until they actually do something, their obligation to these men remains intact. First, they should speak openly about substance abuse and the dangers it poses to the safety and development of every young man. Second, they should back these guys up, and show them that as long as their members of the Cleveland Browns’ family they will be treated as such.
I’m not saying they should be treated as charity cases, left on the roster for no reason, this is sports and the numbers are going to be tallied one way or another. So, if the Browns want to open up their quarterback search or draft a wide receiver to cover their options, then they should absolutely do that. They should be planning on winning, and even with troubles both Manziel and Gordon are still young and still considered talented. Even if all the Browns do is ride the storm and trade them both, they will at the very least be getting some return on a situation that could yield them only silence on the field and savage critique off.
I am rooting for both of these guys, and not just because they play for the Browns. We all love a great comeback story, and these men are young enough to give us one. They need to be led to the water, and if they can find the courage to drink something of a revival then they will have a chance to turn it around. They need more help, more attention, more encouragement, because if it isn’t in the cards for them to fulfill their football potential it would be shame for them to lose the rest of themselves to the terrible little beast of addiction.