Josh Gordon is obviously not a Rhodes Scholar, but as a fantasy team owner who took a chance on him this season, hoping his suspension would be drastically reduced or quashed with the new drug policy agreed to between the NFLPA and the league, let me play devil’s advocate.
We often see NHL players from good, strong families and backgrounds ‘blow up’ when they get to the NHL, the lifestyle, the puck bunnies, the party favours, it’s all too much, and they flush their career away. So much so that we now fret about Canadiens being left alone to fend for themselves in the Big City, lest they turn into Shayne Corson and Chris Chelios, or Chris Higgins. We applaud when we find out that Alex Galchenyuk will live with mom and sis in a condo, and Brendan Gallagher, that loose cannon, will get to bunk in with Josh Gorges.
I kind of wish that every kid had the Vladimir Guerrero or Alex Galchenyuk treatment: every day he comes home to a loving mom and a home-cooked meal, but also a bullspit test that triggers whenever anything out of the norm happens. Have a couple beers too many? Hang out with questionable characters? Going to be late for practice? You’re going to hear about it.
Compare with Josh Gordon’s background. Here’s an excerpt from an article Peter King wrote for Sports Illustrated:
…as he grew older and his middle-class family life began to deteriorate, Gordon found it tougher to discern fact from fiction. Just like that, the radio ad sales game turned on his father, Harold Sr., leaving his mother, Elaine, an elementary school teacher, to pick up the slack. The family moved eight times (a few times separately after a divorce in 2006), and the accommodations around southwest Houston—already a dodgy part of town before Hurricane Katrina refugees took it over—weren’t getting any cozier. Death always seemed to have their forwarding address. There was the loss of an aunt to lung cancer, a grandfather to another lung ailment, another aunt to heart failure; only his oldest brother Andrew, who survived an IED explosion while stationed in Iraq, dodged a visit. This all happened within a four-year span, starting with Gordon’s high school transition from Westbury Christian (enrollment: 600) to Lamar (enrollment: 3,300). Outwardly, Josh never broke from his strong, silent-type character, but under his stony exterior was a mess of hurt.
So yeah, it’s easy when I see a story like his or Justin Blackmon to find fault and question their intellect, but these guys are thrust into the limelight with huge paycheques and the adulation they receive, with a team taking care of everything for them as long as they play ball. A lot of these young men don’t have the life skills to deal with all this, the support network that allow them to succeed.
Of course, I’ll admit that I started rooting for him when I picked him up as a free agent in both my fantasy leagues, when the first rumblings we heard about the new drug policy stated he might have his suspension lifted entirely. Now that it’s been confirmed he’ll be gone for another eight games at least, I’m dumping him tonight for other guys on waivers, and he’s back to being a bum in my book.
Because that's what fantasy league team owners are, craven immoralists who'll pick up Aaron Hernandez on waivers if it will help their team win. Fantasy league owners are probably less scrupulous than even honest-to-goodness NFL owners.