Gordon proving to be worth the gamble for Browns

Receiver had been an outcast after failed drug tests and arrest

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon celebrates a 95-yard touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Tony Dejak / AP Photo
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Imagine life as a member of the Cleveland Browns organisation. Your play-off ledger this century would fit on the slip of paper found inside a fortune cookie: one game. The team’s last post-season win came nearly two decades ago.

You take a chance and sign wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was last seen in uniform catching passes from Robert Griffin at their university. He had drifted off the football radar after being bounced from the squad for numerous failed drug tests and one arrest.

What was there to lose? The team has been losing for a generation.

Well, you discover that Gordon remains high-risk when the league suspends him for two games this season for similar violations. Because another infraction could bring a year-long ban, you entertain trade offers before deciding to hold your breath and keep Gordon, hoping he would straighten up.

Over the short term, at least, the decision has brought sighs of relief, accompanied by cheers and high-fives. No NFL player had exceeded 200 receiving yards in consecutive games until Gordon completed the double last Sunday.

“He’s way ahead of the young receivers I’ve been around in terms of the way he has developed through this year,” the Browns offensive coordinator and former NFL head coach Norv Turner said.

To Browns coach Rob Chudzinski, Gordon’s progress extends beyond the white stripes.

“He’s come a long way in a lot of different areas – in how he’s approaching the game, how he’s approaching the profession, the steps he’s taken in those regards,” he said.

A laboratory could not have crafted a more desirable receiver. Gordon is tall, strong and cheetah-fast.

He is imbued with toughness, having returned to last Sunday’s game after absorbing a blow to the head and requiring a concussion test. Unlike many of his drug screenings, Gordon passed this test and resumed his pursuit of a record that once seemed beyond changing hands.

In between the two masterpieces, he addressed his travails.

“Just pushing through the adversity, it just goes to show that if you stay level-headed, get your head out of the rumours and negativity, you can rise above or overcome just about anything,” said Gordon, who ranks second to Detroit’s Calvin Johnson in total yards this season. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Gordon’s excellence rises from impressive to extraordinary, given that his passing partners would never be mistaken for Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees. He has been dizzied by four quarterback changes alone this season, involving the undistinguished Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer.

Gordon might be collaborating with yet another on Sunday against New England, though not Griffin, who lobbied for the Redskins to sign him.

Instead, the Browns organisation took the approach of nothing ventured, nothing gained. As a result, your guy is out-gaining everyone.