BEREA-- Josh Gordon flashed a wide grin as he approached the podium at the Browns training facility for the first time since 2014.
As evidenced by the smile, Gordon is thrilled to be back in Berea with another opportunity awaiting him-- an opportunity he found out about when scrolling through his phone earlier this week.
"I saw it on Bleacher Report," Gordon said of his reinstatement. "I was definitely excited, man. I was happy for sure, elated."
Though Gordon's excitement was evident on Thursday, he knows too that the fun and games are over.
If he's to make the most of his reinstatement, he's going to have prove that he's turned his life around and that his decisions will be made with his NFL career in mind.
The 25-year-old knows that he can say that he's changed, but knows too that those words will mean nothing.
"It definitely can't be done here at a podium, that's for sure," Gordon said, of a change in his actions. "I can do everything I came here to do on the field by my actions."
It'll be a bit difficult for Gordon to prove change on the field, at least in the near future.
He remains suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season and is rehabilitating an injured quad that will keep him out of Training Camp practices for a couple of weeks.
For that reason, words, for now, are all he has.
“I definitely think I’m a different person," Gordon said. "I wanted to do things my way. As a young man that’s just kind of how you see it, you don’t really want to make time to do other things. But things turn around, people change, it’s possible to change. it takes people some learning, but eventually you get to that point and I think I have.”
Though he feels he's a different player than the one suspended for a year in 2015, Gordon admitted that he didn't know whether or not the Browns would accept him back after his reinstatement.
After showing the Browns brass that he's trying to buy in, Gordon is grateful for the support the team has shown.
"I didn't know to expect of my future with the Browns, how long I would be here or whatever contractually, but I was grateful to be back here," Gordon said. "I have yet see an organization look this good, headed in the right direction of any team so I'm glad too be a part of this one."
When Gordon left the Browns, he left a team that featured Johnny Manziel as the team's most interesting option at the quarterback position. The two quickly became friends, which was immediately alarming to many in the organization and around the league.
Manziel has since proven to be problematic, which Gordon recognizes, but the two remain close. That doesn't mean, according to the receiver, that he'll be brought down by Manziel's struggles.
“It’s difficult to take people inside that relationship, but that’s one of my good friends," Gordon said. "I’ll definitely be there for him regardless of the media, but I have to do what’s right for me right now and he has to do what’s right for him.”
With Manziel firmly in Cleveland's rearview, a new Heisman-winning quarterback has come to the Browns and, yet again, he is a friend of Gordon's.
Robert Griffin III played with Gordon at Baylor and has since become very close to the receiver. Now, more than ever, the receiver will be seeking the guidance of Griffin, who won't be hard to find as their lockers stand side-by-side.
"He’s the reason why I committed to Baylor in 2009. That’s one of my best friends," Gordon said. "It’s not a mistake that my locker’s next to his. He looks out for me. That’s part of my support staff that I was mentioning, guys I know I can lean on and count on. I know he’s a big brother in that regard."
As he tries to head upon a new path in life and in football, Gordon looks back upon his dark days with a bit of regret.
He knows now, however, that he's in the right place-- mentally, physically and emotionally-- to make the most of his incredible potential.
“It’s humbling," Gordon said of his nearly two years away from football. "I wouldn’t wish that upon on anybody. But the point has definitely gotten across to me clear as day. It’s not a place you want to go back to or ever get to. Like I said, I’m grateful. I’m thankful to be here in Cleveland and I believe this is where I belong."
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grovenull