NFL suspends Patriots' Gordon for substance abuse violation

NFL suspends Patriots' Gordon for substance abuse violation
FILE - In this Dec. 2, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon is congratulated after an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass. Patriots receiver Josh Gordon says he is stepping away from football in order to focus on his mental health. In a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday morning, Dec. 20, 2018, Gordon said his decision was spurred by him feeling recently that he could have a better grasp on things mentally. He thanked the Patriots for their support and vowed to work his way back. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File) (Source: Winslow Townson)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Patriots receiver Josh Gordon was suspended indefinitely Thursday by the NFL for violating an agreement that allowed him to play after multiple drug suspensions, casting doubt on whether the talented but troubled playmaker would ever play in the league again.

League officials said Thursday that Gordon was returned to the reserve/commissioner suspended list indefinitely for breaking the terms of his reinstatement under the NFL substance abuse policy.

The news came several hours after Gordon said he was stepping away from football to focus on his mental health.

Gordon said on Twitter his decision was spurred by his own feelings that he could have a better grasp on things mentally. He thanked the Patriots for their support and vowed to work his way back.

"We support Josh Gordon in his continued efforts to focus on his health. His attempt to do so is a private and personal matter, which we intend to respect," Patriots team officials said.

FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon (10) celebrates his touchdown catch with Chris Hogan (15) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, in Foxborough, Mass. Patriots receiver Josh Gordon says he is stepping away from football in order to focus on his mental health. In a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday morning, Dec. 20, 2018, Gordon said his decision was spurred by him feeling recently that he could have a better grasp on things mentally. He thanked the Patriots for their support and vowed to work his way back. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon (10) celebrates his touchdown catch with Chris Hogan (15) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, in Foxborough, Mass. Patriots receiver Josh Gordon says he is stepping away from football in order to focus on his mental health. In a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday morning, Dec. 20, 2018, Gordon said his decision was spurred by him feeling recently that he could have a better grasp on things mentally. He thanked the Patriots for their support and vowed to work his way back. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) (Source: Steven Senne)

Gordon has been suspended several times by the NFL for violations of its drug policies since being drafted by the Browns in 2012, and missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons.

After being reinstated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017, Gordon revealed in an interview with GQ magazine that he drank or used marijuana before games. "Probably every game of my career," he said.

Gordon also said in a 2017 mini-documentary on Uninterreupted.com that he took Xanax, cocaine, marijuana and other narcotics.

FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots' Josh Gordon speaks during a news conference after an NFL football game against the New York Jets, in East Rutherford, N.J. Patriots receiver Josh Gordon says he is stepping away from football in order to focus on his mental health. In a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday morning, Dec. 20, 2018, Gordon said his decision was spurred by him feeling recently that he could have a better grasp on things mentally. He thanked the Patriots for their support and vowed to work his way back. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots' Josh Gordon speaks during a news conference after an NFL football game against the New York Jets, in East Rutherford, N.J. Patriots receiver Josh Gordon says he is stepping away from football in order to focus on his mental health. In a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday morning, Dec. 20, 2018, Gordon said his decision was spurred by him feeling recently that he could have a better grasp on things mentally. He thanked the Patriots for their support and vowed to work his way back. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File) (Source: Seth Wenig)

Gordon's outlook had improved with New England, where he landed in September in a trade after the Browns felt it was time to cut ties. He had 40 receptions for 720 yards and three touchdowns with the Patriots, five years removed from an All-Pro season in 2013 with 87 catches for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns.

Special teams captain and receiver Matt Slater said despite his suspension, Gordon still has support inside the Patriots locker room.

"My No. 1 concern is with him as a man," Slater said. "I'm thankful for the approach he took here, how he was as a teammate. I enjoyed getting to know him in that process and I'll continue to support him in any way I can."

FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon watches from the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, in Foxborough, Mass. Patriots receiver Josh Gordon says he is stepping away from football in order to focus on his mental health. In a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday morning, Dec. 20, 2018, Gordon said his decision was spurred by him feeling recently that he could have a better grasp on things mentally. He thanked the Patriots for their support and vowed to work his way back. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon watches from the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, in Foxborough, Mass. Patriots receiver Josh Gordon says he is stepping away from football in order to focus on his mental health. In a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday morning, Dec. 20, 2018, Gordon said his decision was spurred by him feeling recently that he could have a better grasp on things mentally. He thanked the Patriots for their support and vowed to work his way back. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File) (Source: Elise Amendola)

Safety Devin McCourty said the 27-year-old's well-being is his biggest concern, not football.

"Life comes before all of that," McCourty said. "I think we wish him the best and care about that more than wins or losses."

New England officials had insulated Gordon and focused him on getting acclimated to the team's highly-disciplined culture, while also limiting his time with reporters.

FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon, left, catches a touchdown pass in front of an Indianapolis Colts defender during the second half of an NFL football game, in Foxborough, Mass. Patriots receiver Josh Gordon says he is stepping away from football in order to focus on his mental health. In a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday morning, Dec. 20, 2018, Gordon said his decision was spurred by him feeling recently that he could have a better grasp on things mentally. He thanked the Patriots for their support and vowed to work his way back. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon, left, catches a touchdown pass in front of an Indianapolis Colts defender during the second half of an NFL football game, in Foxborough, Mass. Patriots receiver Josh Gordon says he is stepping away from football in order to focus on his mental health. In a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday morning, Dec. 20, 2018, Gordon said his decision was spurred by him feeling recently that he could have a better grasp on things mentally. He thanked the Patriots for their support and vowed to work his way back. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File) (Source: Charles Krupa)

Coach Bill Belichick said last week that Gordon was thriving on the field, developing chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady and learning the offensive system.

"He's a smart kid, so he learns well," Belichick said. "For better or worse, he's been in a lot of different systems. I know it was only one team, but it was a lot of different systems up there. Most everything we've asked him to do he's done somewhere along the line for somebody.

"As we go through each week, I would say we've gained a little more ground on the overall knowledge of the system," he said.

FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon warms up before an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Pittsburgh. Patriots receiver Josh Gordon says he is stepping away from football in order to focus on his mental health. In a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday morning, Dec. 20, 2018, Gordon said his decision was spurred by him feeling recently that he could have a better grasp on things mentally. He thanked the Patriots for their support and vowed to work his way back. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon warms up before an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Pittsburgh. Patriots receiver Josh Gordon says he is stepping away from football in order to focus on his mental health. In a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday morning, Dec. 20, 2018, Gordon said his decision was spurred by him feeling recently that he could have a better grasp on things mentally. He thanked the Patriots for their support and vowed to work his way back. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File) (Source: Keith Srakocic)

Gordon said earlier this month he thought he was settling in well with New England.

"It felt like home a long time ago," Gordon said. "The atmosphere is very welcoming. It took me a little bit to get acclimated to the area. Other than that, it's been pretty smooth so far, and that's due in part to the facility, the organization, just everybody helping me along the way."

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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, speaks with special teams coach Joe Judge, right, during NFL football practice, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, speaks with special teams coach Joe Judge, right, during NFL football practice, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) (Source: Steven Senne)

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, and wide receiver Chris Hogan, center, warm up during NFL football practice, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, and wide receiver Chris Hogan, center, warm up during NFL football practice, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) (Source: Steven Senne)