BEREA-- The first day of the Browns 2016 season was dominated by discussion of off-the-field incidents.
With head coach Hue Jackson, Executive VP of Football Operations Sashi Brown and Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta at the dais to kick off the campaign, the conversation centered around recently reinstated Josh Gordon, who reported to the team's facility earlier this week with a quad injury.
The questions came quickly, as the media wondered why the Browns welcomed the much-maligned Gordon back with such open arms.
"If the message from Josh and the pledge from Josh wasn’t consistent with what we wanted to see from him, we would’ve made a different decision," Brown said. "That wasn’t the case. He, in earnest, wants to make the most of this opportunity and he knows his situation and so we’re going to get around him, give him that opportunity."
Jackson agreed that Gordon seemed genuine in his desire to turn things around, which made it easy for the coach to return to the routine he's started since coming to Cleveland.
"You guys kind of know how I go about it, his slate’s clean with me," Jackson said. "I think the only way to deal with a player in these situations is to kind of hit the restart button for him and he has to go do it. the league has said what their expectations are, we have set what our expectations are, we’ve laid it out and I think it’s crystal clear what needs to happen as we move forward."
Though Gordon won't be on the field for a while-- due to the quad injury and a four-week suspension-- Jackson is already salivating at the opportunity to get him the ball.
He said he's watched tape of Gordon and knows him as a football player, but what's more impressive, at least in the short term, is Gordon as a human being.
“What really captured me is Josh Gordon as a person," Jackson said. "He has to meet our standards of how ewe do business here and I think he’s willing to do that. That’s why we’re sitting here today with him on our football team.”
As Jackson indicated, it's Gordon the person, not the player, that brought him back to the Browns.
"He is, at his core, a good person," Brown said. "He’s not quite as portrayed in the media."
With Gordon fully backed by the Browns brass, the focus then turned to Isaiah Crowell, who posted an appalling picture to his Instagram which caused quite a stir.
Since deleting said image, Crowell has called the Cleveland Police Chief and has pledged to donate $35,000 to a slain police officer's fund in Dallas. He's also spent time with police officers in Dallas to try to make amends for his post.
The Browns have been urged by many to release the running back, but as of Thursday, that doesn't seem to be in the cards.
Though they don't seem to be ready to waive him, the Browns are also not ready to completely forgive him for the picture.
"I think it starts with, obviously, grave disappointment in the actions in the first place and we don't skip past that," Brown said. "We'll use it as a teaching lesson for the entire team, something that Hue preaches. It was disappointing but hopefully from some of this some good can come."
Jackson too is disappointed in Crowell, but feels that the 23-year-old should be given a chance to make things right with all involved.
After all, the coach feels that the post was an aberration more so than the status quo for the running back.
"We don't feel that that's Crow's character and I truly believe he will continue to work at making this right," Jackson said. "I truly believe it's not who Isaiah Crowell is and I hope everybody just gives him an opportunity to prove that as we move forward."
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