By NATE ULRICH
Akron Beacon Journal
Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu realizes plenty of people have advice for embattled Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. But Mathieu also knows what it’s like to battle addiction, so he’s convinced that words of wisdom won’t help Gordon unless he wants to make significant changes.
Gordon was arrested early Saturday morning in Raleigh, N.C., on a charge of driving while impaired. Gordon, an All-Pro, is appealing a potential suspension of at least a year stemming from what ESPN reported in May was a positive test for marijuana.
Gordon, 23, served a two-game suspension and was docked four game checks last season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. He also failed three marijuana tests in college - twice at Baylor and once at Utah - before former Browns general manager Tom Heckert selected him in the second round of the 2012 supplemental draft.
“Me having been through it and having a little bit of experience with that, I don’t think anybody in the world could possibly tell (Gordon) anything,” Mathieu said Tuesday night during an interview with NFL Network’s NFL Total Access. “No one could tell me anything when I was going through it. I had to figure it out for myself. Hopefully, he will get the point. Hopefully, he will get the message. But most of the time, it takes for people to hit rock bottom for them to start believing in their self and start seeking help. A lot of people can reach out to you but that doesn’t mean you always take that help and take that advice. He just has to want it for himself.”
Toward the middle of last season, Gordon promised a small group of his teammates that he wouldn’t slip up again, BleacherReport.com’s Mike Freeman reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed player. Now there’s a feeling of betrayal and some of Gordon’s teammates want nothing to do with him, according to Freeman.
In November, Gordon also told reporters he was confident that his troubled past wouldn’t resurface.
“I’m confident because I just know me, I know myself,” Gordon said. “Things like that coming in between me and my goals and my career, I can’t really see that happening.”
Although Gordon has let many people down, some who know him well won’t give up on him.
“Josh certainly has a tremendous amount of physical talent and intellectual gifts,” Baylor coach Art Briles said Wednesday during an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio. “We all just hope and pray that he’ll be able to get through everything and finally reach his full potential. The thing about Josh that’s so unique is he’s still young. He just turned 23 (in April). So he’s still got - and that’s what I talked to him about - his future is ahead.
“He’s going to be judged by everything that’s happened, but he still has a great future ahead and that’s the way he needs to approach the situation. When you’re in our family, you’re always in. So we’ll do whatever we can do to help him be successful through his life.”
Mathieu, 22, can relate to Gordon’s struggle.
After becoming a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011 as a cornerback and punt returner at LSU, Mathieu was dismissed from the team in August 2012 after failing multiple drug tests. In October 2012, he and three former LSU players were charged with marijuana possession. That’s when he hit rock bottom and contemplated suicide.
“I’m sitting in that jail cell, thinking, ’I don’t know if I want to go back out there and face the music,’ ” Mathieu, a third-round pick in last year’s draft, told Fox Sports Arizona last month. “I didn’t know how I was going to commit suicide in the cell, but that was the direction my life was heading.
“Believe it or not, my cellmates were encouraging me, telling me I was a good football player, telling me I don’t need to be thinking about this. That’s probably why I really didn’t do it, but there was an actual moment where I was thinking about it, and I’ll never forget that feeling.”
Mathieu, 22, entered a drug rehabilitation program after the arrest and has been trying to rebuild his image ever since. He hopes Gordon takes similar steps in an attempt to turn his life around.
“You have to weigh your pros and your cons,” Mathieu said during his recent interview with NFL Network. “What do you want to be in life and who do you not want to be in life? You have to add all of those things up. I’m pretty sure who you want to be in life will weigh a lot more than who you don’t want to be in life. Hopefully (Gordon) can get that. I’m still young myself. I don’t know too much about it, but I do know that it takes a lot to look in that mirror and fix yourself.”