The city of Cleveland and the Browns have had a dark cloud of pessimism hover over them for years. Cleveland has not had a major sports championship since 1964 and their beloved Browns have had just one winning season since returning to the league in1999.
The 2014 season offers much promise for the Browns, as rookies Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel offer a glimpse of a brighter future. The solid defense returns with a few enhancements, with Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner bring experience and toughness to only make things better.
In addition, the returning offensive players there is much to look forward to as quarterback Brian Hoyer played well last season before his knee injury and Jordan Cameron emerged as a top flight tight end. The receiving corps got deeper with Andrew Hawkins,Nate Burleson and Miles Austin. Even the inept running attack got a bolster from the signing of Ben Tate and the drafting of Terrance West.
There is one name that has not been mentioned that is perhaps the most important of all; and whose likely suspension will have a major impact on the team’s on-field success. Josh Gordon entered training camp coming off a tremendous 2013 campaign that saw the receiver tally 1,646 yards in just 14 games. He reason for his uncertainty this season is the same as what caused the All Pro receiver to miss two games last season. The NFL has a hearing in New York with Gordon, where the league will determine whether Gorodon’ third drug violation (all for marijuana) since entering the league. Last season, Gordon had his suspension reduced for six to four games and noteworthy faces a full year suspension as a result of his third strike violation.
The suspension appeal hearing began on Friday and is expected to carry over through Monday, with the league reaching a decision shortly thereafter. It is almost a certainty that Gordon will have a suspension of some length levied on him, and rightfully so. Despite his lawyer’s assertion that the positive test results were from second-hand smoke, his past violations; both in college and in the pros suggest there is more to the story.
All while this circus is taking place, the remaining Browns players and new coaching staff try to prepare for an important season. Optimism is high in the blue collar city, which is odd given the franchise’s track record since 1999. One major factor in the higher hopes is the game-changing skills that Josh Gordon brings to the gridiron on game day. But is his repeated bad decisions away from the field that has put his career and the teams hopes in limbo.
The sports world is littered with instances of talent infatuation; where teams and fans are willing to overlook some transgressions because of the promise an athlete’s talents offer. That has clearly been the case in Cleveland, where a player with questionable decision-making skills has been allowed to continue playing because his on-field exploits offer a glimpse of a brighter tomorrow. In a matter of days we will know the outcome of Gordon’s appeal, and will all know better whether that brighter tomorrow will be the Browns 2014 season or not.