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The Reasons the Texans Should Sign Josh Gordon

6 Oct

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The Houston Texans have a history of balking on some of the obvious picks that they should take in the draft and of hesitating on making big moves in free agency. They signed defensive tackle Mario Williams from Maryland instead of taking Reggie Bush, the flashy running back from the University of Southern California, or Vince Young, the homegrown star at the University of Texas in the 2006 draft. Reggie Bush was viewed as a the best running back prospect in a decade, and Young had just won a National Championship at UT almost single-handedly. Either pick made more sense than signing the big defensive end from Maryland. Mario Williams, the Texans’ first pick in that draft, has spent the last three years starting for the Buffalo Bills. Similarly, in 2012 the Texans passed on free agent quarterbacks Alex Smith and Peyton Manning. Houston was mediocre at the position fielding a regressing Matt Schaub who had single-handedly sunk the team’s playoff hopes a year before. With one of the toughest defenses in the league, Houston could have contended for a championship with the solid if not spectacular Alex Smith or with a Hall of Fame quarterback, Peyton Manning coming back from serious injury. And, these are just two of the most glaring missteps by the franchise in recent history. There are many other smaller trades and re-signings for the Houston Texans that are questionable at best. But, the next big mistake that the team could make in free agency, would be failing to pursue Josh Gordon if and when the Cleveland Browns release him. Josh Gordon has violated the NFL drug policy multiple times and is serving a one-year suspension, however he could be an incredible fit at wide receiver for the Texans with the loss of Andre Johnson to free agency. And, in the short time that he has played professional football, he has been as unbelievably productive on the field as he has been irresponsible off of it. Here are a few reasons that the Houston Texans should acquire the rights to Josh Gordon.

1. He Is from Houston

Returning home to all the people that he knows and loves could be the number one reason that Josh Gordon should not be welcomed back into Houston from the Cleveland Browns. Homecomings can bring all the bad influences of the past back into any athlete’s life, but coming home could also put some much-needed structure and discipline in the life of a guy like Gordon. His parents, friends, and his whole support system reside in the Bayou City. A few athletes lose control when they leave their home cities because of all the distractions, however these athletes usually do well once they are settled into their own backyard. Gordon might behave differently once he has to be accountable on a daily basis to his loved ones. If he has the right people around him, including but not limited to his parents, he may become a little more stable and predictable in his personal life which means he will get more time on the football field.

2. He Can Play

Josh Gordon is the first player in NFL history to post back-to-back games with 200+ yards receiving. NFL greats like Michael Irvin, Isaac Bruce, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, and Terrell Owens have multiple 200 yard games in their careers, but none did it in consecutive games (in fact, most of the guys who have multiple 200 yard games did not accomplish those feats in the same season). Randy Moss only had one 200 yard game in his career and Cris Carter never reached 200 yards in a single game, totaling 168 yards in his best game. A 200 yard game is a marker of immense natural gifts, and Gordon is a unique talent. He led the league in receiving yards in 2013 with 1646 receiving yards while only playing 14 of the 16 games. He was more dynamic than any receiver in the NFL that year, including Calvin Johnson, the most talented receiver that the NFL has seen since Jerry Rice. At 6’3″, Gordon can highpoint the football over smaller corners on fade routes or posts, but he also has the breakaway speed to turn a simple screen or slant into 80 yard touchdown. He is as physically gifted as anyone in the league, and he could the fill the hole left by the Texans’ number one receiver, Andre Johnson.

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3. No Talent Around Him

Josh Gordon put up those exceptional, aforementioned statistics without any offensive help from the quarterback and running back position. Gordon played without a running back who rushed for even 400 yards in the entire season. Willis McGahee and Chris Ogbonnaya were the leading rushers for the Browns with 377 and 240 rushing yards respectively on the year. And, Gordon received passes from a trio of Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell, and Brian Hoyer, none of whom completed even 60% of their throws that season. Their completion percentages were 52.8, 56.8, and 59.4, respectively. He was basically playing alone on the Cleveland Browns with defenses preparing to stop him, on a team with no other viable threats, and was still able to regularly beat coverages. A Houston squad with Gordon, the versatile and explosive Arian Foster, and an emerging DeAndre Hopkins could be unstoppable on offense regardless of the quarterback.

4. No Risk, Huge Reward
With all the trouble that he has had with drug suspensions, Josh Gordon would come to the Texans for virtually nothing. And, because of his off field trouble, he would have to produce on the field just to get a decent contract in the following years. He is still currently under his rookie contract, and even if Gordon performs incredibly well on the field in Houston, only a fool would sign him to anything other than an incentive laden contract because of his behavior when he is not playing football. The Texans could hypothetically re-sign Gordon without taking a huge financial risk, keep him for relatively a small sum, and drop him if fails another drug test. They could get a seminal talent for virtually nothing.
5. NFL Punishments Are Not Uniform
Tom Brady was suspended for two games this season after being caught in a scandal for deflating footballs. Ray Rice knocked his wife out in a casino elevator and drug her out of the elevator onto the casino floor. He received a two game suspension. Dwayne Bowe received only a 1 game suspension for an arrest for marijuana possession. And, performance enhancement drugs seem to only get 4 game suspensions. But, Josh Gordon is serving a full year suspension after missing 10 games last year for substance abuse. Cheating in games, spousal abuse, and using drugs to improve your on-field performance are apparently definitively less offensive to the NFL than recreational drug use.
6. His Last Test Results Were Controversial
This whole drug testing business is overly complicated and decidedly anti-player. First, why is the National Football League (or management in the NFL, more specifically) testing for marijuana use? The use of marijuana does not add any advantage to football players on the field, and it has been proven to be more effective than some of the approved pain and therapy medications that players currently use. Plus, policing and ultimately catching your own players breaking the rules seems counter-productive to monetizing the players’ talents. Second, why are the punishments for substance abusers more punitive than those for performance enhancing drugs? The integrity of the game seems like it should be a more serious matter than what player does recreationally. Marijuana has been legalized in numerous states, and could be utilized responsibly to help players (though there was probably nothing therapeutic about the way the drug was used in Gordon’s case). And finally, why are football players held to such high standards with the use marijuana? The World Anti-Doping Agency requires 150 nanograms per milliliter for a positive test for marijuana. Baseball requires 50 nangrams per milliliter. The U.S. military requires a positive test of 50 nanograms per milliliter to flag potential violators of its drug policy, and then only a 15-nanogram-per-milliliter sample once the test is confirmed. By far, the NFL’s testing measures are the most stringent. The NFL takes two urine samples from an athlete labeled A and B. The first cup is tested for the threshold of 15 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana resulting in a positive test. If cup A meets that threshold, then any trace of marijuana in cup B is deemed a conclusive test. Gordon’s cup A measured 16 nanograms per milliliter and B was 13.6,a positive test. Because of a previous positive test and other infractions, Gordon was placed in the NFL’s Stage III Drug Testing program. Stage III meant Gordon could be tested up to 10 times a month, a positive test warrants suspension for a year, and players who enter the Stage III drug testing program remain there for their entire career. Reportedly, Gordon had already passed at least 70 drug tests. And, in this test, if cups A and B were switched he would still be playing football. Gordon should have done a better job of keeping himself out of these terrible situations, however the standard for these tests are too high.

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