Line up all the other "name" receivers to whom the Patriots have thrown a life preserver in the last dozen seasons
There are castoffs, washed-ups, has-beens and never-weres that should-have-beens.
But there's never been an acquisition at that position quite like Josh Gordon.
Reggie Wayne, Torry Holt, Joey Galloway, hell, go all the way back to J.J. Friggin' Stokes if you want. Michael Floyd, Anthony Gonzalez, Ocho, Donte Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney, even Randy Gene Moss.
None of them had once-glimpsed brilliance that was then put under a basket for four-plus seasons.
None of them - except Moss - had the same combination of size, speed, quickness and body control.
None of them had this absurd boom-or-bust potential: Gordon could literally add years to Brady's career, make Gronk the team's second most-potent target and give Julian Edelman pastures to prance in when he returns. Or he could be gone in two weeks.
I had a Twitter tete-a-tete today (I only argue on Twitter when I'm in America) when a follower said that, because I was skeptical about Gordon I must have also thought Moss was a bad idea.
Gordon barely plays at all. And while he may be more solidly built than Moss and more daunting after the catch, who knows if he's even in the same intellectual stratosphere as Moss was. Brady and Moss together - when Moss was engaged - was simply unfair because
Brady finally had a guy with the physical AND mental skill to literally toy with defenses.
Moss is the greatest or second-greatest wide receiver of all-time. Gordon was the best receiver in 2013.
Since he was reinstated to the NFL less than a year ago, Gordon did his due diligence to bare his soul and burnish his image.
But his last two months in Cleveland hint at a guy who doesn’t have a handle on either his sobriety or mental well-being. Or maybe both. Gordon went AWOL from the start of training camp, saying he wanted additional counseling before camp to deal with his mental health and anxiety and avoid self-medicating so that he didn’t violate the NFL’s substance abuse policy and wind up suspended or exiled permanently.
On August 18, he decided he was ready to join the Browns. And by Saturday the Browns had had enough of Gordon and announced they were releasing him. He had a statement at the ready for that too.
For the Browns to sit through as many years of Gordon’s struggles and foolishness as they did only to say “Fudge it…” when they were on the cusp of becoming competent doesn’t just speak to their fatigue with him. It means they don’t believe him either.
So he’s the Patriots problem now. And to be blunt, for them, he’s no problem at all.
If he so much as swears after stubbing his toe, they can kiss Gordon goodbye and go back to being a really good team with the best head coach, quarterback and tight end in football and a brilliant little slot receiver who’ll give the offense a turbo shot in two weeks time.
It will suck if they build Gordon a nice little nest of love and support just like the Browns did and he then plays them. But if that happens, they can tell him to hit the road. Or the league will if Gordon fails whatever tests they have lined up for him.
Gordon hasn’t been denied support, second chances or love by football. He’s not a victim of circumstance. Not anymore.
If Gordon is gone by Sunday, whatever … they tried to “do what was best for the football team” and took a chance.
If he helps them win a few games and takes heat off Gronk for a few plays, great, that’s gravy.
If he becomes a really good employee, plays to his potential, makes his fellow employees better and winds up in a confetti typhoon at the end of the year, tears, hugs and smiles all around.
The only way that fairytale ending has a chance at happening is if Josh Gordon wants it to. Sincerely.