In January, TNT sports analyst Charles Barkley spoke publicly about his concern for NFL player Josh Gordon. The Cleveland Browns wide receiver had failed yet another mandatory drug test and was moving ever closer to a one year suspension.
Barkley spoke from his own personal experience with alcoholism and addiction when expressing his concern for Gordon. Barkley's brother Darryl passed away in 2009 from a heart attack caused by substance abuse issues.
Barkley does not have any kind of relationship with 23 year old Gordon, so his advice to the young athlete seemed uncalled for to many viewers and even a bit harsh. Others agreed with Barley and saw his comments as a way to express genuine sympathy for a talented young athlete going down the wrong path.
A few days after the segment with Barkley aired, Gordon himself responded to his comments in an open letter. He started out by politely thanking all the parties concerned about his well being and future of his career.
Then Gordon's tone became more direct. He pointed out the fact that Barkley had no relationship with him and had never even met him.
Gordon told his critics that they knew nothing about him and had no right to worry about his life. The athlete stated that he was not a victim and had no use for anyone's sympathy or concern, especially from people he had never met.
Gordon then goes on to address the recent incidences involving his drug and alcohol use. He apologizes for his behavior to fans, teammates, and family members, and admits that he made mistakes in the past.
Gordon then continues by mentioning all his accomplishments made in recent years, including leaving a childhood of poverty behind to become a top athlete in the NFL. Gordon talks about how he put a marijuana habit behind him in order to become the best athlete he could be.
Gordon finishes his letter by stating the facts about his recent failed drug test and his agreement to abstain from alcohol. He then scolds his critics for falling for media hype and speculation, and says that he doesn't deserve to be the subject of gossip.
Gordon concludes by stating his commitment to having a successful career and paving the way to a bright future for himself. The 23 year old athlete says that his recent mistakes are all part of a learning process that will help him grow and develop into a better person and athlete.
In early February it was announced that Gordon was suspended from the NFL for one year for violating their substance abuse policy. Gordon had failed a substance abuse test for alcohol and had violated the no drinking policy he had previously agreed to.
That policy had been put into effect for Gordon's previous offenses. Gordon's manager Ray Farmer came out with a public statement expressing the team's as well as his own disappointment with the suspension, as well as a hope that the time away from the NFL would be used constructively to work on the young athlete's problems.